Play Ball!

Apr 08, 2013 No Comments by

Play Ball!

Major League Baseball returned this past week signaling the official end of winter.

Most fans don’t start to pay attention to baseball until the games count in the pennant race. But the 30 Major League teams have actually been practicing and playing for well over a month now.

Today’s post is about an idea that comes to my mind every year around this time…040813 Play ball Blog Post Wordle

It’s the notion that teams – whether they are business teams trying to implement change or baseball teams trying to win the World Series – need to prepare before “taking the field”.

The Sounds of Spring! Consider all the familiar rituals baseball teams go through each spring as the season approaches:

–  Players report to training camp early to stretch out and get their wind back before “real” games begin.Wrigley Field

–  Coaches run players through intense drills to reinforce fundamentals.

–  Managers experiment with different lineup combinations, pitching rotations and batting orders.

–  Pitchers test out new pitches and batters adjust hitting techniques.

–  Even the TV and radio announcers gather details about new players who’ve moved around during the offseason.

And of course, everyone sharpens their skills by actually playing under the lowered pressure of Spring Training games.

All of this preparation was done in March so players, coaches, managers and announcers could perform at their best starting this week.  Everyone knows the upcoming schedule will include playing almost every day, so there will be little time to make adjustments without risking a dip in actual on-field performance during games that count!

Baseball Albert PujolsTime to Prepare: The same ideas about preparation hold true for Change Agents. You’ll want to have a clear plan.

You’ll want to have your lineup set. You’ll need everyone working together from Day-1.

Once your transition begins, the activity level could get so high that it will be difficult to introduce new plans.

In the spirit of a manager preparing a baseball team for the upcoming season, Change Agents should start getting people ready for their change initiative well in advance.

Before you launch your big change, decide who will be on the roster for your Change Team and who will play what roles. (Sponsors, champions, activity coordinators, project managers, communicators, trainers, support roles, etc.) Identify the key skills your team members will need and have your team practice these skills before you have to count on them in real situations.

What’s the Plan?  Lay out your team’s game plan by identifying these 15 things:

1.  The rationale – exactly what your change is about and how to explain it to those who are affected.
2.  The specific measurable achievements your team should expect to accomplish (and what you’ll do if you miss those milestones!)
3.    What big decisions need to be made and the timing of these decisions.

4.  Who will be impacted by the change.
5.  The degree and nature of the change impact – especially if it varies by different parts of your organization.
6.  How you’ll measure change readiness among your stakeholders.
7.  What activities will be needed.WoodenBaseballBats
8.  Who will do the work.
9.  The timing and sequence of change-related activities.

10.  Resources, money, materials and access to equipment you’ll need over the course of the change initiative.

11. How inter-team communication will be accomplished.

12. What specific “gives & gets” you’ll need from sponsors, champions, trainers, etc.

13. How you’ll communicate with stakeholders about learning opportunities, progress of the change and where to go for help.

14. How you’ll support people through their transition.

15. The specific activities, outcomes, and deliverables needed from any vendors who are helping with your change

Take the time to gather this information before your project starts. Review commitments and plans with those who will be involved just to make sure your team is on the same page before the first pitch.  Verify the skills your team will need and practice prior to launching into your change.

Borrowing this approach from the ball field could potentially help you avoid a change shutout! 

Who knows, if you do your Spring Training drills and diligently prepare your team for the upcoming “season of change”, you might find yourself winning the pennant!


Questions for Chatter:

–       Have you been part of the change that failed to adequately prepare before diving into the work? 

–       How did a lack of preparation impact the final results for your change?

PS: Read another baseball-themed article about the preparation needed to be successful with your change by visiting another post I created on this topic called “Turn the Promise of Spring Into a Ring”.


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Change Agent Skills, Change Communication, Change Execution, Change Leadership, Stakeholder Readiness, Team Dynamics

About the author

I help people and teams succeed with big changes... never a dull moment!
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