What Baseball Can Teach Us About Building A Successful Team


If you are a baseball fan, you’ll know that there are two strategies to building a successful organization: through the farm-system and through free agency. A strategy of building your team through the farm-system means that your organization is focused on player development. This strategy is usually used by small-market teams (Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, etc.) since they do not have the budgets of large market teams to spend on paying players through free agency. Small-market teams can be successful by using their farm-system to develop their talent so they can promote them to the major leagues. Their ultimate goal is to have them be top performers at the highest level. The budgets of small-market teams can be equated to a startup, digital agency or SMB. Small markets team usually have 80% of their players from their farm system vs. 20% from free agency.

On the other hand, if you are a large market team (New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc.) you can rely heavily on building your team through free agency. You can equate the large market team to companies like SalesForce, Google, and Apple. By having huge budgets and brand cache, these organizations can attract top players that have already reached the major leagues, but it usually comes at a cost. Large markets teams have 80% of their players from free agency vs. 20% from the farm system, but they have the resources to recruit top players.

Since most organizations do not have deep pockets of Fortune 500 companies, you have to be strategic in how you build your team. If you rely heavily on just recruiting top talent, you may end up spending a lot of money on human capital or missing out on top performers because they are in high demand. But if focus on hiring people who you think have a lot of potential either right out of a college or a few years out, you can provide them additional training that can turn them top performers.

If you are an up and coming organization, think about how you can apply the baseball farm-system strategy to building your organization and consider how you can take your next generation leaders and turn them into top performers. Just a simple commitment to leadership development can go a long way in creating top performers.