When you think of teams, do you automatically think includes such details as the position a catcher should take on a 3-2 count and the fine distinctions of 12 different ground balls a second baseman might face. • Coaches understand the importance of teaching the details. Team players are “taught” and “coached” in real-time through a continual focus on improving their skills. Coaches help players learn from immediate game experiences. The pitching coaches and the batting coaches are right there refining players’ behaviors during a game. of sports teams? For most of us, that was our first introduction to the concept of teams. Well, there’s one sports team that is a perfect illustration of what an effective team is all about: the St. Louis Cardinals.66 What can we learn about effective teams from them? Their record speaks for itself: the Cardinals, in the last four years (2011–2014), have won one World Series and two pennants, and achieved four consecutive playoff spots for the first time; in the last 15 years (2000– 2014), the team has been to the playoffs 11 times, participated in more playoff games than any team since 2009, and had only one losing season; since 1960, the Cards have had con- secutive losing seasons just once (yes, once) in 55 years, in the years 1994 and 1995. The Cardinals organization is a well- managed team, both on the field and behind the scenes. How have they managed these accomplishments? Here are some keys to their success: • Talent development. The Cardinals organization finds ways to maximize its people and the skills they bring to the team. Their talent development process often grabs less-gifted mi- nor league players (for less money) and transforms them into major-league contributors. How? Through its well-run farm system. Players in the Cards’ AAA, AA, and A leagues are repeatedly reminded that this organization likes to win and knows it can win. • Intense focus on the fundamentals (the tasks) of the game. The Cardinals play fundamentally sound baseball—they know their business and they execute. (Or, using the words of the Nike slogan, they “Just Do It!) Players and coaches religiously use the 86-page operations manual (titled, of course, “The Cardinal Way”) as their guide. The manual • Culture of success, care, and support. This is an organiza- tion with a deep history of success. There’s an air of con- fidence that they’re going to win. There’s the expectation that they will play the game the right way. Traditions are cel- ebrated and embraced. Team members genuinely care about each other. When a teammate was killed in a car accident at the end of the 2014 season, all pulled together in compassion and concern. The Cardinal Way is, at its very heart, an organizational philosophy that guides all team members—from the team on the field to the coach staff to the front office staff to the market- ing team and all others in the organization. Play ball!
10-18 How does the St. Louis Cardinals organization epitomize teamwork?
10-19 Do you think sports teams, like the St. Louis Cardinals, go through the stages of group development? Why or why not?
10-20 Using Exhibit 10–6 as your guide, discuss how the St. Louis Cardinals organization creates effective teams.
10-21 What could other organizations (even non-sports ones) learn from the St. Louis Cardinals?