Baseball: A Game Of Strategy Execution

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strategy execution, calvin coolidge, walter johnsonCalvin Coolidge, the former U.S. President once stated the familiar quote, “The Business of America is Business.”   Calvin Coolidge also said “Baseball is our national game.”  He attended the 1924 World Series which is underway now in 2012.  This blog isn’t to debate the name of the best of 7 game tournament that determines the annual champion of Major League Baseball.  It is rather to draw comparisons between “America’s Greatest Pastime’ and business when it comes to strategy planning and strategy execution.   

Both baseball and business are a team effort.  You have to field a good team to win.  That is why much effort is put into the recruitment process in both business and baseball.   Baseball is a game of strategy.  Actually it is several games within a game.  It is a game between the opposing managers in each dugout, pitcher vs. hitter, catcher vs. base runner, field positions vs.  hitter, etc.  In each scenario a team comes with a strategy or game plan. Examples are not to let the other team’s best offensive player get a pitch to hit, swinging only at a certain type of pitch by an opposing pitcher, etc.  Baseball however is a game of execution.  If a pitcher fails to execute pitches he gets hit, if a batter fails to execute a hitting strategy they do not get on base,  fielders that make errors are not executing ,etc.   That is why baseball is a game of execution.   You can have the best game plan coming into a game but if you can’t execute it doesn’t matter.  Just ask the recently ousted St. Louis Cardinals about that. 

Companies today spend millions of dollars on strategic planning and expect to get a return on that investment.  Do they?  

  • Per Harvard 90% of companies fail to execute their strategic plans.   
  • 95% of Employees do not understand their organization’s strategy
  • 27% of a typical company’s employees have access to its strategic plan
  • 60% of typical organizations do not link their strategic plan to their budget
  • 85% of management teams spend less than one-hour per month on strategic issues
  • Other studies show that those strategies that are actually executed, two thirds are not done so on time, on budget, or in scope.


So I would argue that business needs to be more like baseball and focus on execution.  Again, in baseball they come up with a game plan or strategy vs each opponent.  They do this by watching film, advance scouts, previous experiences vs. the same team or manager etc. Like business they use their strengths vs the opponent’s weaknesses to gain an advantage.  The main focus is execution though.  This is why they run drills in spring training, take batting practice, take infield ground balls, etc.  Business should also continue to focus on a strategic plan but then put the same effort into coming up with a great plan on the execution of that strategy.  Rather than run baseball drills businesses can better communicate the plan with employees on a regular basis via town hall meetings, budget for every strategic initiative, make sure employee objectives and compensation are tied to the strategic plan.  Consider hiring a consultant or contract worker to assist in executing a particular strategy.  Purchase a strategy and alignment tool.    By doing so businesses will find that their organization is not a statistic and will gain a tremendous advantage over the competition thus pleasing employees and shareholders alike.  Just something to think about as you watch the “Fall Classic.”

If your company needs help with strategy exection.  Please contact us.


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