Brad Pitt’s great, new movie—Moneyball—about Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s taught the audience a lot about the business of baseball. Here, in Phoenix, there are many lessons businesspeople can learn from baseball as played in 2011 by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It’s not all about payroll and stars. Moneyball demonstrated how a team won without All- Stars. While the DBacks has two All-Star players (Justin Upton and Miguel Montero), probably most baseball fans outside of Arizona cannot name one Diamondback. While businesses benefit from charismatic leaders, it is the skill, dedication, and teamwork of the lesser-known worker bees, which can make the difference. The no-name Giants were the World Series champions last year, not the high-priced Yankees.
Turn-arounds are possible. The DBacks went from last in 2010 to first in 2011. With new management, strong coaching, and a change in culture, businesses can also make dramatic advances.
Leadership is important throughout the organization. It takes more than the CEO to make a successful organization. Kirk Gibson has set the culture—gibby ball—as the foundation for success. But without coaches, like Nagy, or on-field leaders, like Montero, the team could not have implemented the plan.
Diversity strengthens an organization. Not only are the Diamondbacks diverse ethnically and by nationality, but also by a good mixture of experience. From veterans, like Willie Bloomquist, to journeymen like Chris Young to newcomers like Goldschmidt, the DBacks have a successful combination of seasoned stability and fresh energy.
It pays to be hardheaded. Upton has gotten clobbered in the head twice this past week. This year, he has been hit 19 times. Yet, he still approaches the plate with confidence. Business managers also need to show toughness, resilience, and keep getting back up after being knocked down, in order to stick to their business values and inspire their employees.
Never give up. The DBacks have come from behind to win 48 times. Last night’s dramatic win after trailing by five runs in the 10th inning should inspire many businesses, who have feared that they are down to their last out. Sometimes, an external force, an opening (e.g., last night, LA pitcher’s error) is provided upon which a prepared business can capitalize and recover.
Whether the Diamondbacks make it to the World Series (or as Beane says “win the last game”), their 2011 journey has served as a good model for Phoenix businesses.