3 Things Organizations Can Learn From the Blue Jays
Now that the Blue Jays have finished their incredible season, I have been thinking about the baseball year, how far the Toronto Blue Jays have come and what contributed to their success.
Consider that the team reached the playoffs for the first time since 1993, ending what was the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports at the time. Early in the season they showed signs of the team they would become but they were unable to sustain any significant wins. At the all-star break, the middle of the season, the Blue Jays record was 51 wins and 50 losses. They were barely winning half their games. In contrast, they finished the season with a record of 93 wins and 69 losses clinching first place for their division. What led to this major turn-around in the second half and what can organizations learn from it?
1. Don’t be afraid of change.
Faced with another year of not making the playoffs, the team decided after the all-star break that they were not going to roll over and play dead. Instead they took action. A number of players that were popular with fans but who were not gelling with the team inside the clubhouse were traded. New players were brought in – Donaldson, Tulowitski, Price – who would ultimately be significant contributors to the team’s success. It was a complete shake up on the field as the GM realized “you can’t expect different results if you are to keep doing the same thing over and over” (Albert Einstein). The GM was not afraid of change and knew that to be successful you have to make difficult decisions and bold moves to achieve your vision. When an organization is not on the right track there are times when you have to part ways with those that are hindering your success and bring in the talent you need.
2. It’s all about the fit.
Not only did the Blue Jays’ GM bring in the talent needed, he brought in the personalities that were needed in the clubhouse to help the players become a successful team. In the first half of the season it appeared there were players that did not fit with the group. They were seen off to the side and not mixing with other players. After the player changes were made, word got out that the team was not only exciting on the field but were having a great time off the field spending time together and eating meals together. The personal relationships that were developing led to a more cohesive team on the field. As many organizations have realized, it is not enough for an employee to have the skills an organization needs. They also have to be a person that will get along with the rest of the team and fit the culture of the organization.
3. Everyone has an important role.
This seasons Blue Jays also recognized that winning is not just about the nine players on the field. There is a whole team behind them of players, coaches, trainers and administration. Many people provided the support necessary for the players to be successful, and the organization’s leadership made the effort to recognize the value of these supporting roles. For instance, when the Blue Jays were clinching the division out of town, the GM took a number of front office personnel to sit in the front row of the stadium and watch the game. When the team entered the playoffs, suited up and on the bench were players like Kawasaki and Buerhle even though they were not on the roster and would not be playing. The GM recognized that they provided a positive impact to player morale just being there. Organizations know that there can be those people whose personalities offer more to the team then their actual skills and that there is great value in that.
So thank you Blue Jays for the wonderful year! And thank you for teaching organizations to not be afraid of making drastic changes, the importance of hiring the right fit and how to recognize the important role everyone plays on a successful team. See you next season!
Partner & Senior Consultant
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