Similarities Between Corporations and Baseball

baseball substitute bench hands

There Are More Similarities Than Differences Between Corporations And Baseball

The popularity of the book “Moneyball” among business executives further illustrates the valuable lessons that we can all learn from the way metrics are used in baseball. It turns out that baseball and business have a lot in common in many areas of talent management including:

  • The competition is intense – Metrics are essential in a competitive environment. And baseball is even more competitive than most business environments because rather than a focus on quarterly results, success is publicly assessed and severely criticized every single day.
  • Talent is the #1 – In both cases, it’s not the equipment or the buildings that cause success. Instead having and effectively managing superior talent is the #1 success factor.
  • Recruiting has the most impact – Both in baseball and in the corporate world, recruiting clearly has the highest impact of all talent management actions on team performance. Baseball is superior in using metrics to identify which “talent management actions” (recruiting, development, pay, leadership etc.) have the highest correlation with winning. In other areas, a lot can be learned from baseball, because it excels at putting a dollar value and calculating the ROI on recruiting superstar talent. And baseball is also best at realizing that when you recruit a top performer away from a competitor, your team improves while the competitor’s team immediately suffers.
  • Champions keep score on everything – In either field, you simply can’t be a champion without keeping score. Champions love performance metrics because, in addition to serving as measures of individual and team success, they allow the individual to continually improve. Unfortunately, corporate executives lag far behind the sabermetrics of American baseball and baseball is much superior to corporations in using metrics to determine performance-based compensation and performance management.
  • Always seeking a competitive advantage – Because the competition for talent in both environments is so intense, your talent management approaches, metrics, and results must continually be superior in order to provide a competitive advantage. Both must also do a comparative analysis and look externally so that your organization can act to counter your competitor’s actions.
  • Look for the self-motivated – Both organizations need to hire and retain self-motivated and driven individuals that continually learn and order to get better. So corporations should learn from the player assessment approaches used in baseball recruiting.
  • Fit is important – Success in both come from team play. So both require an accurate assessment to ensure that each new hire is a cultural fit and that they have a “put the team first” attitude.
  • A focus on those that make others better – The best players and employees simply make others around them better (i.e. Magic Johnson). And the more of those that you have, the better.
  • Managers matter – In both, having an effective manager is essential for success. In both areas, the best players don’t make the best coaches. This is because the responsibilities and the skill sets between a player and a manager are so different.
  • Managers must influence – Both types of organizations realize that the old “command and control” approach no longer works. That means that great managers that rather than ordering, know how to influence, nudge and coach in order to win.
  • Informal leaders manner – In both industries, informal team leaders have a major impact. In baseball, it’s perhaps a little more obvious that a handful of players, without having a formal leadership title, are clearly on and off the field “leaders” that make a significant contribution to the team’s success.


Dr. John Sullivan will be speaking about this and more at BPI’s TalentBall with the Texas Rangers in April. Joining Rangers’ top executives including GM Jon Daniels, their CFO, Head of Analytics, VP of HR and others, Dr. Sullivan will be bridging the gap between the successful Moneyball tactics and corporate talent and business results. Click here to register today for TalentBall.

Previous articleI Learned Everything I Know About Great Talent Metrics…From Baseball
Next articleBaseball Sabermetrics are Years Ahead of the Metric Practices in Corporate Talent Management
Dr. John Sullivan
Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions. He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of Talent Management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations / organizations in 30 countries on all 6 continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column and the LinkedIn Talent blog. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the “Michael Jordan of Hiring”, called him “the father of HR metrics” and SHRM called him “One of the industries most respected strategists”. He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked #8 among the top 25 online influencers in Talent Management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present).