3 Ways That Baseball Analogies Can Help Your Tech Business Thrive

Management gurus have no shortage of similes for the world of business. Warfare, for example, is often used for comparison purposes. To see what we mean, consider how many modern CEOs have found inspiration from Sun Tzu’s ancient tome The Art of War.

Comparing today’s relatively constrained tech environment to the no-holds-barred world of military conflict does have its shortcomings, however. Driving your competitors into bankruptcy is one thing. Dropping smart bombs on their office is quite another. One will put you on the cover of Fast Company. The other will put you in prison – never a wise career move.

Perhaps we can find a better analogy in the world of sports. Like tech companies, sports teams have owners, managers, uniforms, strategy sessions, and scorecards. Heavy hitters receive bonuses, and underperformers receive coaching sessions, sometimes followed by a cordial invitation to seek opportunities elsewhere.

While several sports might serve our purposes, it’s only fitting that we choose baseball. Not only is it the Great American Game, its combination of skill, strategy, and team spirit model the high-stakes transactions that occur every day, both in business and the world of MLB.

With that in mind, here are three lessons that business leaders can glean from the likes of Babe Ruth and Yogi Berra.


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Lesson One: Choose Your Team Wisely

This means more than just recruiting top talent. After all, a team is more than just an assembly of outstanding individuals. It’s also a living, breathing entity, with its hierarchy, unique culture, and group dynamics.

When sizing up your prospects, it’s not enough to ask yourself, “Can he or she do the job?” You must also consider whether the person will fit in with hand-in-glove harmony or stand out like a sore thumb. If the latter proves true, then let the raw recruit keep their free-agent status. You’ll both be better off.

Lesson Two: Train, Train, and Train Some More

Spring training is an annual rite of passage in the major leagues. It’s a challenging, sometimes grueling experience in which players shed their winter doldrums and polish their skills.

By itself, however, a single marathon training session is never enough. Your people need to reaffirm the fundamental skills that enabled them to earn their positions in the first place. In other words, they require regular, consistent training. Otherwise, they’ll grow rusty, and your business will strikeout.

Lesson Three: Reinvent Yourself When Necessary

Recently retired pitcher R.A. Dickey was well into his professional career when he ran up against a brick wall. A problem with his right elbow joint caused his pitching ability to degenerate, severely compromising his worth as a player. For Dickey, it looked like the game was over for good.

So what did he do? He reinvented himself, spending long, torturous hours perfecting the knuckleball, an unconventional pitch known to drive batters…well, batty. The bold move turned things around in a big way for Dickey, extending his shelf life and enabling him to retire with a lion’s share of wealth and prestige.

All businesses eventually find themselves in the same position as Dickey, knowing that the glory days are behind them. When that happens, the only option is to reinvent yourself.

AOL is a prime example of this principle in action. The company feasted during the early days of the Internet, racking up hefty profits by charging hourly rates for online access. But the rise of broadband in the late 90s sent their stock crashing, causing many to speculate that consumers had pulled the plug on the company for good.

Rumors of AOL’s demise proved untrue. However, thanks to the company reinventing itself as a media provider. This change in course, along with a happy marriage to Verizon, has enabled the former Internet giant to find new life in the 21st century. This is one survival story that has lessons to teach all of us.


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Rounding the Bases and Heading for Home

The business insights to be gained from the world of baseball are almost infinite. In this post, we’ve touched on three of them. Use these ideas to chart a course to victory in your own version of the World Series, whatever that may be. Till then, keep your eye on the ball.

Read next: 5 tips for harnessing exponential business growth (infographic)

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