6 Cultural Changes Inspired by Theo Epstein (pt. 2)

Continued from the previous post, here are 3 more changes you can consider for a stagnant culture that Theo Epstein might think about in instilling a winning Cubs culture.

4) Losing becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Essentially, if you believe you’re a bad team, you’re going to perform like one even though in reality you aren’t. Look, I don’t believe for 2 seconds that a curse has anything to do with the Cubs perpetual losing. It’s the same way in organizational cultures. Everything happens – or doesn’t happen – for a reason. If the management believes the team is as good as anybody or even better, yet the rest of the team doesn’t appear to believe it, where’s the disconnect and why is that happening? It could be lack of clarity or distant leadership. Lack of metrics that everyone understands. Lack of everyone in the organization understanding what’s valued most. Or lack of talent that just isn’t there and has been permitted to stay for far too long. And more.

“(In Boston), it wasn’t a curse. It was just the fact we hadn’t gotten the job done, and we identified several things the franchise had done historically that probably got in the way of winning a World Series, and we went about trying to eradicate those. That’ll be part of the process here.” 

Epstein talked about “a Cubs way of playing the game.” We’ve come to think of that as a bad thing. But his definition included better baseball fundamentals for better play.

5) Identify quality metrics for smarter decision-making.

In baseball terms, General Managers like Billy Beane, Epstein and others are part of a new breed that ties sabermetrics (objective statistics) to measure on-field contributions. I’m not sure that will translate into a signing of Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, but if it does happen, it won’t be merely because of home runs, RBIs and the common statistics we read about in the papers.

In a cultural situation, the more that metrics are locked away so that the rest of the team won’t know what they are, the more they’ll be unclear on vision and goals. I recently read a book entitled “Employees First, Customers Second,” in which the CEO of an Indian I.T. company opened up a company of thousands to be able to see performance reviews of one another, even management. You’d think it would cause a major company revolt, but instead, it brought the employees together to work even harder – particularly managers who had no idea they were perceived that way. Everyone knew each other’s areas for improvement. If this notion scares you, what does that really say deep down about confronting your weaknesses? We all have them.

6) A winning culture needs to be continuously fed.

Epstein clearly believes that this involves the development of a strong minor league farm system that feeds talent to the big leagues regularly for lasting results. A business may not have a minor league farm system, but it does need to grow talent and brand ambassadors by giving them the opportunity to be the face of the organization – like engaging in social media on behalf of the company, for example. And it means feeding contributors regularly with rewards that they value for their own life, not just what management thinks they should value.

The thought of cultural change busting 103 years of losing is mighty exciting. But cultural change that creates quite the dynasty of your own? That might be even more thrilling.

What kinds of things are you doing to shift a stagnant culture? Share them with us! We could all use a little push out of our comfort zone.

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