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Set Up for Failure, How Did They Succeed?

In 1973 the New York Mets gathered a team of underperformers. This was a team that generated the second worst batting average in the major leagues. This was a team that finished ninth in games won. But this was a team that captured the pennant, and took the 1973 world series into game seven.

More recently, Major League Baseball’s 2015 Toronto Blue Jays placed an emphasis on player character, and won their Division. Meanwhile, over at the New York Yankees, veteran pitcher CC Sabathia pronounced that, “if you have good clubhouse chemistry, you‘re going to win. It’s not something you can fake.”

Enough baseball.

Getting down to business, your organization may be under-performing. You’ve probably made adjustments, but your targeted results may still be out of reach. So, you assess your current players while you begin looking for new talent, whether or not they’re looking for a new home.

In that process you catalog everybody’s pedigree, their individual performance and their leadership strengths. But even with your meticulous assessments, you’ve probably overlooked an essential element for success – how do the people pieces fit together?

To bolster or rebuild your enterprise with the right leaders, you may or may not have a good in-house candidate. Looking outside to attract a right leader to your business, you can’t pluck a resume off a job board and expect that you’ve got a winner. Pinpointing the numbers is easy. Chemistry, fit, camaraderie, collaboration and the ultimate synergies are difficult –and the they’re the most likely difference between eventual success or failure. In the process, any organization will chew up a cultural misfit.

1973 Mets pitcher Tug McGraw is not remembered for his less-than-impressive pitching record. But he is sanctified for his “ya gotta believe” battle cry that drove his teammates. USA Today sportswriter Bob Nightengale reflected on the team’s performance: “Sure you need to have talent to win, but talent alone doesn’t guarantee a thing.”

This is so much of what organization building is all about.

“All I know is when we win a game, it’s a team win. When we lose a game it’s a team loss.” – The Bad News Bears


Stan Davis is the Founding Principal of Standish Executive Search, a New England-based firm that advises business owners, executives and boards who are positioning their companies for accelerated growth, change or succession.


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