What Can We Take Away From the 2012 Boston Red Sox?

Sure, it’s understood that we’re not all fanatic Boston Red Sox fans. In fact, just about half of our fine staff here at Firebrand Technologies lives in or around New   York. It’s natural of course, that we have arm-wrestling matches from time-to-time to settle the score of who the best team is (wearing the Yankee’s shirt with the “Got Rings?” slogan on it is unacceptable here in our Newburyport, Massachusetts headquarters).

That said, it’s fair to say that anyone – in any industry – can learn from the state of the 2012 Boston Red Sox squad. By now, it’s likely we’ve all been privy to the information that the Sox shipped Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, and the inflated salaries that are associated with each party, to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for… well, basically nothing. Some prospects, and the notion of a “clean slate.” No matter which way you look at it, said clean slate comes with an undetermined cost far greater than any real monetary mathematical formula. The reverberations of this deal will have a rippling effect on the franchise (and the league) for an indefinite time frame, and in its wake, the rebuilding of the playoff contender we’ve become accustomed to, will take some careful planning, and a lot of sleepless nights for those in the front office.

So what have we learned?

The Sox have historically been a team that has prided itself on development. On building position players from the ground up, and coaching these players in to what will someday (with some luck involved) be a fruitful big-league career, and a positive return on investment for the ball club. Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Hanley Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester… I’m looking at you. The list goes on and on, but this is a current (and relevant) starting point. There is something to be said about growing slowly, and basking in the glory of unleashing a bonafide star down the road.

Somewhere after the turn of the century, in the midst of the success of ’04 and ’07 World Championship teams, and a recharged and newly branded “Red Sox Nation,” the club started to shift its philosophies a bit. Like their arch-rival (yes, the Yankees), they began to troll the league for big stars, and began signing astronomical paychecks in the hopes for continued, “here and now” success in lieu of these large salaries, instead of tapping the well they had worked hard to fill over the years. They began to shift their focus from the farm system, in hopes that building a successful dynasty came from the outside, rather than from within. Case in point (with the 2011 self-imploding club, and the 2012 not-even-in-a-position-to-self-implode club) – this philosophy simply doesn’t work. Not for the Red Sox at least…

It’s important to grow organically. Not only does it promote better team chemistry, and allow fans to grow with the team, but it also gives you better insight into how your organization is developing – from the ground on up. It’s easier to take a look around and figure out what you’re missing, and look for reasonable ways to fill those holes. The answer is never as easy as hastily signing on the dotted line. Take a breath, look around, and figure out what you can do to maintain the culture, and success of your business without compromising the steps you took to get where you are today – in the clubhouse, and on the perimeter of the field where fans are filling the seats, and tying themselves physically and emotionally to be part of “the Nation.”

With Firebrand, we offer solutions to help publishers grow in a climate that is going through serious continued change. But we don’t require anyone to “buy the farm” at the outset. We are committed to growing with you, to starting with what it is you really need to get to the next step, and we have the track record to take a look around and figure out what player you need in place to fill your current need. And when that initial goal is met – after we’ve scored that go-ahead run – we can look at where it is we want to go next. You need a pitcher to keep you in the game? Firebrand has got the arm. You need a hitter that can plant one out of the park for you in a clutch moment? We’re always swinging that weighted bat in the on-deck circle. All you need to do is point in our direction, and we’ll step to the plate and deliver.  At Firebrand, our value proposition has always been to tie in to what’s happening with our client’s organization and to add to the culture, experience, and success; to grow with you, rather than be an entity that may be able to crush 60 homers in a season, but has a serious ego, and is otherwise a distraction to the rest of the team (i.e.: Not on the same page). We’re interested in collaborative gain, not personal gain. We’re not looking to alienate the AA, or the AAA players by signing a perennial all-star who doesn’t seem to fit the system, but looks good on paper. We’re looking to implement a solution set that fits. To be in it together. And every case is unique, just as every baseball game is unique… there is no script in baseball. Each day offers a new challenge, and a new storyline. The beauty of the game resides in rolling with the balls and strikes – the only assurance you have when the words “PLAY BALL” are spoken.

For the Red Sox, it’s time to start thinking about each piece of the puzzle, and of fitting those pieces back together. It’ll likely take them some time (but they’ll get there). For us, in their misfortune we’ve been granted invaluable insight into successful business practice: If we’re not growing together, we’re not growing at all…

Let’s play ball!

Let’s continue the conversation! Join us at our annual Community Conference, find us on Facebook and Twitter, or give us a shout here at the office. What do YOU take away from the fall of the Boston Red Sox? We’d love to hear from you!

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