Baseball is a wonderful metaphor for succession planning. To frequently win the World Series like the Boston Red Sox, there’s often a correlation among a team’s management, talent and its farm system. That’s true for business.

A farm system’s role is to provide training and experience for young players. The best farm systems deliver impact talent.

Consider the enviable record of the Boston Red Sox of winning the World Series this century: 2018, 2013, 2007 and 2004. The team had a dry spell for several decades after winning in 1918, 1916, 1915, 1912, and 1903.

Let’s examine the inspiring reasons of how and why the team won in 2013.

In 2012, Boston finished last in the American League East with a 69-93 record. Considering the team’s history, the lowly won-loss record was a surprise. So the Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine and hired John Farrell to manage the team on the field.

Talent strategies

The team traded for some new “team-minded” players. The team responded well to the new manager and the Red Sox finished the regular season with the best record in the American League at 97-65.

During the World Series on Oct. 28, a ranking for farm systems was published. The Red Sox farm system was ranked No. 1.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was rated the team’s best farm-system talent. Ironically, he played a major role in the team’s post season success and two days later the Red Sox won the series by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, four games to two.

Lessons from the Red Sox are applicable to business. To win, managers must excel and make the right talent decisions.

That can be accomplished in a couple of ways: You can blow your budget out-of-whack spending huge sums of money for talent or you can grow your own.

The latter option makes the most sense and is indicative of strong leadership. Companies that promote their executives from inside vis-à-vis recruiting from the outside have a much higher financial-success rate.

In other words, successful companies identify and nurture their intellectual capital. (See the Link between Financial Performance and Succession Planning)

In promoting talent, the three errors to avoid:

1. Failing to understand the big picture or have clarity of purpose. Picking the right people for the right jobs means understanding the dynamic marketplace, anticipating change, and knowing what skill sets will lead to success.

2. Too much subjectivity and not enough objectivity. Managers often use the wrong evaluation criteria — they lack objectivity in decision-making. (See 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations)

Like a baseball farm system, talent has to be evaluated for potential. In addition, an investment has to be made in the talent’s future so it will be developed and given the right opportunities.

3. Risk aversion and management. Lack of critical thinking and playing it too safe is as dangerous as making too-risky decisions. Vision is needed to understand which untested talent should be promoted.

So what can you do to avoid mistakes in your farm system?

Use these tips:

1. Put a premium on critical thinking, financial savvy, ability to make tough decisions, dedication to continuous personal and professional growth, have the art of persuasion to motivate others, tenacity, patience, skills in creating opportunities, and knowing when to cut losses.

2. Comprehensibly ascertain your capabilities and what you’ll need for success in the years to come.

3. Evaluate your employees on their potential to become leaders using the skills listed in the No.1 strategy above.

4. Once you make a decision regarding talent, don’t engage in self-doubt. Stay focused, provide tools and opportunities for your employees to accelerate your business growth.

From the Coach’s Corner, related management strategies:

Management — Big Banks Provide Lessons in Succession Planning — Many businesspeople are so focused on operating their businesses, they forget about human capital –their most important asset. Organizations from small to large should strategically make a succession plan.

HR — Succession Planning Is Essential for Business Success – To keep growing a business, it’s vital to preserve the trust of customers, employees, partners and investors. No matter how small or large your company is, a strategically written succession plan for the chief executive officer and talented employees is critical for sustainability.

Rules to Successfully Bring Your Kids into the Family Business — Naturally, in bringing your kids into your family business, the key to long-term success is to do it the smart way. Here’s how.

HR: Overcoming Tech Trends, Boomer Retirements — There are ominous implications for human resources departments — from the same tech trends that have empowered consumers to force businesses into the digital age.

dedication + motivation = success


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.