The greatest baseball game I ever saw was Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. The Minnesota Twins defeated the Atlanta Braves 1-0 in a 10-inning nail bitter, adding an exclamation point to what many consider the best World Series ever played.
In that deciding game, Twins’ ace Jack Morris gave one of the gutsiest pitching performances in baseball history — scattering 7 hits over 10 scoreless innings while throwing a staggering 126 pitches.
Morris, who in 1994 spent a short stint with the Cleveland Indians, spent nearly 3 1/2 hours on one of the world’s grandest stages and barely broke a sweat. From first pitch to last, he relentlessly attacked Atlanta’s hitters. Whenever a batter reached base, he dug in his heels and adjusted his approach.
One of the things I love most about baseball is the strategy that unfolds during a game. It’s fascinating to watch as the players make adjustments throughout the game as the situations change.
Morris’ performance, as well as the entire 1991 World Series, demonstrates a close correlation between effective adjustments and victory. In the business world, this same ability to swiftly adapt to marketplace fluctuations often means the difference between success and failure. Newton’s Third Law of Motion offers one reason why: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
And though Newton lived long before the Grand Old Game arose, he had the right idea: In business, like in baseball, those who react best win. Adjustments, however, aren’t made in a vacuum. Success depends on two equally important pieces — a leader and a team. The leader has four responsibilities: Develop the game plan; lay out a vision for success; achieve buy-in by inspiring others to step up and follow; and execute on the plan. In baseball, this role falls to the pitcher. In business, that often means the CEO or another senior executive.
The team also must effectively play defense behind the pitcher. They need to collectively grind out base hits on offense and score a few runs — at least one more than the other guys. Victory represents having the ever-so-slightest edge on your opponent. It isn’t necessary to engineer a massacre to secure the W.
As the innings pass, the plan requires continuous adjustment. The leader’s tactics need to be tweaked so they better address what’s happening at any given moment.
Trust is just as important. A leader must trust the team to do its job, especially when that job looks more like a curveball than a straight fastball. And in return, the team must trust its leader to make the right adjustments at the right time.
But just like Morris grinding it out inning-after-inning, batter-after-batter, if you want to make successful adjustment in business, you have to know your end goal. And then, make sure your focus is clear and accept nothing less than success. By doing so, you can rally your team to rise to the occasion and make adjustments.
Then, maybe, just maybe, your organization will end up winning its own version of a World Series ring. ●
Dustin S. Klein is publisher and vice president of operations of Smart Business Network, publishers of Smart Business magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org (440) 250-7026.