Baseball and business have a lot more in common than you might think. I’m a Cubs fan, which means that I’ve seen my fair share of heartbreak and losing. This baseball season has been an interesting one because the Cubs actually have a good team. I thought it would fill the fan base with confidence, but in reality it has done nearly the opposite. Instead of the happy-go-lucky, optimistic Cubs fans I was used to, most people were tense, worried that now that the Cubs had a good team, they would screw it up and lose. In fact, even the Cubs players are saying the same things themselves.
“We’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves,” said Miguel Montero (translated from Spanish) after the Cubs’ 6 – 0 loss to the Dodgers.
That’s human nature for you.
When people believe that they don’t have a shot, they tend to be overly optimistic about their chances. When victory is a genuine possibility, it’s easy to think of all the things that could go wrong and actually become pessimistic.
Baseball and business are much the same way in this regard. I see these same problems all the time in small business, particularly with forecasting. Most forecasts and budgets are overly optimistic. They make too many assumptions that everything will go their way. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work, and so the majority of these overly optimistic forecasts fail.
Equally fascinating things happen with the successful ones, though. You’d think that success would breed confidence, and sometimes that does happen. But more often than not, it creates an overly cautious approach that becomes resistant to change.
It’s like the business knows it’s successful but isn’t 100 percent sure why it’s successful. As a result, nobody wants to change anything and be the one to screw it up.
Unfortunately, that line of reasoning is terribly flawed. Look at Blockbuster, for example. They should have seen Netflix coming a mile away. They should have seen how the distribution model was changing and been one of the first to change. Instead, they were one of the last, and by then, it was simply too late.
When you’re forecasting, stay as realistic as possible. An overly optimistic forecast will doom you from the start. If you think you’re going to contend for a World Series title with a roster full of players that belong in Triple-A, you lost before you even began.
Beyond that, though, is the need to continually adapt. When you find something that works, understand that your work is not done. You have to keep evolving. Look at many of the most successful teams. They typically have a core group of good players, but often times the rest of the roster changes from year to year. If you cling too closely to what worked in the past, you’ll end up with a bunch of players past their primes that can’t get it done anymore.
Baseball and business require one to be realistic and always open to change.
Let’s go Cubs.
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