I’m a Philadelphia Phillies baseball fan. You don’t have to be interested in the team to compare their story with that of your business. The Phillies finished the 2011 season with a won-loss record of 102-60, the best in major league baseball. They are now in the “off season”, with 3-4 months to recuperate, rehabilitate, and recreate. Team management will use that same time for examining the team’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats; developing appropriate strategies for addressing those factors; and taking action on those strategies for next season. Sounds like a business, doesn’t it? It is.
The Phillies are a really good team but they continually look for ways to improve. Do you lead a really good team that’s looking to improve? What are you doing about it in the off season?
Phillies management has decided to make some changes. They will modify their offensive strategy and focus on improved hitting. They will instill the discipline of not swinging at the first pitch so frequently. Each player has at least one additional hitting weakness that can be exploited by the opposing pitcher. The coaches will work to improve each player’s ability to overcome that weakness, to hit that low inside pitch or that curve ball that breaks away.
Some “free agents” who are very good but overpriced players will not be invited to return next season.
In addition, the Phillies will improve by replacing one or two weak or injured players with better performers at certain positions.
Even though they are routinely sold out for their home games, the Phillies continue to look at new, creative strategies for increasing revenue. They have very expensive players and a very expensive TV contract, so strengthening their business model is a necessary ongoing practice.
Like the Phillies, your offseason is a great time to identify strategic changes that are needed, and skillsets that need sharpening. It’s a time to create and implement plans to:
• Encourage that employee who is struggling. Teach her to “hit a curve ball”.
• Take action regarding your “free agent” – someone who has played out his contract, has some good skills, but is no longer motivated to give you his best effort. He is therefore overpaid.
• Admit that your weakest player just isn’t cut out to play this game. Seek and find a better player.
• Identify and evaluate alternative strategies for increasing your revenues and profits. Move forward with the best ideas.
Are you considering what needs your attention during your off season? Have you identified your off season on your calendar?
You probably work your posterior off most of the year. However, the demands on your time are not equal every day, every week, and every month. For some businesses, that week between Christmas and New Year’s is an off season. For others, it’s a summer month or a few weeks between summer and winter. The important thing is to identify how many off seasons you have in a calendar year; to allocate a portion of that time to vacation; and to resolve to use at least a portion of the remainder to plan for improving your team. And then, once you’ve planned the changes, implement as though your business depended on it! Because it does.