For many years, I worked in professional baseball under terrific ownership. They understood that sports and business must live together to be successful. More art than science, it was my role to lead the planning process from year to year.

As you might imagine, it’s so very easy to get caught up in the season. Blue sky, green grass, the smell of popcorn and hot dogs on the grill, the crack of the bat, fans cheering on their team. But baseball is much more than just game day.

Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” Well, he was half right. Baseball is more strategy than physical prowess.

In baseball, management and players spend countless hours getting ready for the game. As in any sport, there is preparation, homework on competition and then boldness to go out and play your heart out.

In many ways, managing a baseball team is like managing a business.

Athletes and teams spend time developing their strategies for success. They know how their bodies will respond, they know who is throwing what pitch, they know when to stay and when to steal. Great teams have a process in place to prepare for success.

Focusing on the present is very necessary, but the only way to continue being successful is to keep one eye on the future. Developing the discipline to set a planning timetable is critical to creating a successful organization.

Formulating a strategy requires the commitment of top leadership to set time and resources aside to develop a path to the future. Strategies can be new to the organization or a commitment to already established initiatives.

It is important, however, to take time to do your homework, develop a competitive analysis and consider the marketplace. Your preparation should include a 360 on your organization by talking to customers, staff, and partners. This objective look at who you are as an organization will become the touchstone for all of your decision-making. You will learn so much about who you are as an organization it just may startle you.

The information you process in developing your strategies will provide a foundation for future success. It is truly powerful.

And, commit your organization to following your plan. Distill it in a way that will allow you to communicate it to everyone in the organization.

Get everyone, up and down your organization, to live the plan.


1) Get the commitment from shareholders and senior management

2) Set a timetable for your planning process

3) Take time to ask the hard questions, and do the research

4) Create a plan with actionable strategies

5) Identify how each department and area supports the plan

6) Communicate the plan to everyone

If you’ve got a strategy, you’ve got a fighting chance.

Play Ball!