Skip to main content

Blogpost Redux: Baseball Lessons That Play in the Boardroom

Appian Contributor
April 12, 2016

Baseball Lessons That Play in the Boardroom

Following is the annual reboot of a blog post originally published in 2014. It most certainly still rings true today!

I hope you enjoy it...

-Zach Messler


It's Spring! And, in much of North America, Spring means baseball, a game rich in history and tradition.

There is good reason for baseball'slongevity. Some of what keeps the gamethriving can be applied to your organization too. With this in mind, here are three things about baseball that every executive should understand and employ when looking toward technology to solve tough organizational challenges:

1.) Simplicity drives adoption.

At its core, baseball is easy to understand. Though the strategies employed may be complex, the game itself is inherently simple. That's why Major League Baseball has been successful for more than a century. It has an easy-to-understand product that can be digested by the masses.

It's the same with adoption of new business software. It's there to improve operationsÖreduce costsÖenhance productivity...even improve margins. But to do any of these things, a new system needs adoption...and fast. Business software should be intuitive, requiring no training to use and little effort to run and maintain. Systems can be complexÖjust not complex to use.

LESSON: When choosing business software or systems, consider the use of an application platform to make your technology easy to build, use, and change. This will increase speed-to-deployment and adoption rates, both key attributes to realizing fast results.

2.) Three strikes and you're out.

A batter can swing and miss twice in baseball, but not a third time without taking a seat. After three strikes, the batter is out; his opportunity to make an impact in that at-bat has ended.

LESSON: When considering business software or systems, make sure not to swing and miss across these three areas:

    • Speed-to-deployment: If it requires too many bodies to implement, odds are it's going to take more time and cost more money than you expect.

    • Ease-of-use: If it's complex to use, people won't use it. Keep it simple!

    • Accessibility: Today, people work across locations, time, and mobile devices. A solution that doesn't work natively on any device is outdated; one that works only on alaptop is unacceptable. Make sure you are prepared for today's technology advancements...and for whatever emergesin the future.

3.) Records are the lifeblood.

More than just about any other sport, baseball has hallowed records: home runs, hitting streaks, hits, wins, and so on. How else to explain the numbers that every self-respecting baseball fan just knows: 714 and 755 (home run records at respective times by Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron); 56 (consecutive games with a hit: Joe DiMaggio); 4256 (most hits in a career: Pete Rose); 511 (most wins by a pitcher in a career: Cy Young).

Plus, there are unifying principles in baseball that give perspective to what is considered great performanceÖMilestones like 500 home runs, 3000 hits, 300 wins. These are how the best are measured.

Your organization has unifying principles too records that are at the core of why it exists. But do you use them? Can they be accessed--with relevant context-- across your organization? Are you fully taking advantage of the knowledge that is embedded in the very business you conduct?

LESSON: Embrace your records. Converge data and process from across systems so it is easily accessed and consumed by those who need it. Proactively ensure everyone in your organization has the awareness and knowledge they need to take the right action.

Baseball may be only a pastime, but from it we can glean valuable business lessons about what to do (and not do) when considering use of technology to solve tough problems. Apply these lessons and you'll be more prepared to make the right decision.

Zach Messler