By Tom Myette
Today’s top story engendered a cogitation expedition into the frequently chartered seas of America’s greatest past time, as well as the role that experiential learning plays in cultivating a successful baseball team. The parallels to running a successful organization in a competitive atmosphere are profound. Similar to traditional organizations and companies, no two professional sports teams are alike and the competition is obviously fierce. Recruiting top talent begins at an early age. Teams are comprised of veterans that are strategically retained or traded because they may provide a missing piece to a team’s puzzle. Developing the available talent is a critical endeavor that all teams, especially under-funded organizations, rely on to maximize the team’s potential. Professional squads are equipped with coaches and mentors who pass on institutional knowledge and lessons learned from past experiences. In a synergistic manner, professional organizations leverage all the available resources at their disposal to have the most successful season. However, at a certain point, it is well established that talent can only take you so far. At the professional ranks where the processes of recruiting, developing, and strategically using a team’s talent has been fine tuned over generations of experience, intangible factors ultimately differentiate the successful teams from the under-performing teams. They inevitably influence the outcome of a game and, thus, a season.
A baseball season consists of 162 games and for 10 lucky teams (formerly 8), the playoffs bring with it many more games, elevated levels of competition, heightened emotional experiences, and increasingly difficult circumstances such as hostile away crowds. To be successful, teams require leadership and experience to guide players as they overcome vulnerabilities brought on by physical fatigue and mental exhaustion. Successful teams identify ways to win, which are arguably discovered during experiences that expose players to similar conditions. Experiential learning and leadership development occurs naturally as players are repeatedly challenged on many levels. Players learn to diagnose dilemmas, anticipate consequences, and take action using the tools at their disposal to produce a favorable result for the team. The players who repeatedly encounter and overcome these situations, and incorporate lessons learned from the experiences, often develop into the leaders required to have a successful team.