You are no stranger to the teamwork required to run projects. Project teams require multiple people to work together. It is also very common to hear plenty of references to sports by your team members. There is good reason for it. Even the most casual fans can relate in some way to sports.
You also might be one of the 23 million Americans that tuned into game 5 of the World Series. This is the highest number of viewers in 12 years. They saw the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets and win their first championship title since 1985.
While New York is definitely a massive market, the Mets generally do not generate the same level of attention as the Yankees command. And Kansas City is routinely referred to as a “small market” franchise. So why was interest so high this year?
One reason could be simply how the Kansas City Royals go about their business. They are a magnetic team that attracts an audience, regardless of the market they play in. There are several things that team managers, directors, and CIOs can learn from this championship team
1. It is not all about the stars
The Royals’ roster is not made up of superstars and household names. Many of them came up through the Kansas City farm system. KC is a very budget-conscience team. So they are forced to draft well and nurture young talent, as opposed to going out and signing expensive free agents.
This might sound like many IT departments. Talent is developed in-house. Team members attend company or vendor-sponsored trainings. They acquire new skills. And those skills are put into real-world use. That high-priced network admin superstar is quite often beyond the budget or simply not available on the free agent market.
2. Begin with a clear, common goal
A large percentage of this year’s winning team was also on the team in 2014. Last year, they also made the World Series as unlikely challengers. That team had a runner at third, just 90 feet away from home, which was the tying run in game 7. They were so close they could almost taste the champagne. That set back did not stop them from carrying over the same goal over to 2015.
It is critical that every team member, from the game one starting pitcher to the equipment managers, is on the same page. This is also true for your team – from interns to project managers. They should not only know what they need to do, but also why they are doing it.
3. Put together a game plan and stick to it
The Royals’ game plan is pretty simple. Play solid defense. Do not strike out. Be aggressive on the bases. And it doesn’t hurt to have outstanding pitching from the bullpen.
The Mets led at some point in each of the four games that the Royals ultimately won. And yet the Royals never changed their approach at the plate. They simply do not strike out. Relative to the league, they strike out less than every other team in baseball history. Their game plan is to put the ball in play and that doesn’t change whether they are leading by 7 runs or down by 2 in top of the ninth.
Even if your team faces adversity, it is important that they stick to the plan. As the leader, if you feel it is time to make adjustments, then by all means do it. Just ensure that the entire team understands the new direction and why you are taking it.
4. Review the game film
Managers, pitchers, and catchers do this the most. They are looking for the tendencies of their opponents. While they watch film all season long, it really comes into play in a best of seven series. They are facing the same team night in and night out. You can learn when to shift fielders to the right because a particular lefty tends to pull the ball. Or you know to elevate a fastball to a batter because he likes to chase out of the zone.
Because IT departments also work project after project with many of the same team members, it is crucial to do the same thing. There should be a comprehensive “lessons learned” session following each project. That information should be shared with every member of the group. Your team – and your clients – will appreciate the opportunity to duplicate successes and eliminate errors.
Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals!
Winning the World Series is a magnificent feat. Some amazing Hall of Fame players have never won. Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, and Ken Griffey Jr. all never won a championship title.
Luckily for you, IT project wins are much less elusive. There are lessons that can be learned from many places to help you and your team achieve success – including the 2015 Kansas City Royals.
For more information on what your IT team brings to the table, download your copy of "The Art of Understanding Your IT Team" today.