Can Phillies Go from Good To Great?

If you are like me, you had a big disappointment when the Phillies lost Game 7 of the League Championship series a few weeks back. While it will sting for a while, the team will be back in 2024 and make a strong run for the World Series again. Sometimes with my clients, I use examples of how a winning baseball strategy can help grow their business.  Right now, I am going to take a little different approach and share how a business strategy can be applied to baseball, particularly to the Phillies.

The Fighting Phils are clearly a good team but how can they become a great team?  Lots of folks have lots of suggestions, but I think the answer can be found in a book from my CEO Bookshelf.  Let’s check out the Jim Collins book, “Good to Great”. I did a review of “Good to Great” in my October newsletter which you can check out, but right now I want to focus on something from Chapter 4 which is entitled: “Confront the Brutal Fact (Yet Never Lose Faith)”.

The Phillies assembled a lot of outstanding talent to make up the team and during the season they shuffled that talent on the field and with the line up to win many crucial games.  To quote Jim Collins, “they got the right people on the bus and then they got them in right seats”.  A lot of this came down to the decision making of the Manager Rob Thompson who showed great faith in his players and shuffled the line up to get the best results.

That changed during the playoffs when he let the faith in his players override the facts of the current situation.  A few times he called on relief pitchers who did not have their best stuff and the results of their last few appearances were scary at best. The top of the lineup went cold, a few tweaks in the batting order could have created a much-needed spark. When there was a significant opportunity to pinch hit in Game 7 with the bases loaded, he let a .087 hitter bat who was totally overmatched, and the result was a rally crushing and inning ending strike out.


To be clear Rob Thompson had a challenging job and had to make tough decisions.  His management style is based more on faith in his players and not the brutal facts. Now let’s shift to Chapter 4 “Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)”. Baseball has more stats than most sports and checking out the recent pitching performance and the quality of at-bats for certain players, it would be self-evident what to do.  These were the brutal facts, but he decided to look past them and go with faith in his players.

If you want your team or your business to go from good to great, you have to face the brutal facts and make tough decisions. As the manager of a baseball team or CEO of your business it is your responsibility to make tough decisions. But to make the leap from good to great, you have to face the brutal facts and learn from past decisions.  The companies highlighted in the book “Good to Great“, showed the ability to face the brutal facts and make changes to put them on the road to greatness.  There are some great “lessons learned” from this year’s playoffs and from the book.  Over the winter, I highly recommend that Rob Thompson pick up a copy and you should too.

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