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Do you have a Farm System?

May 25Danny Windsor

The major league baseball season is well underway as I write this article. As always, it is a long season and it will be interesting to see who remains at the top of their respective divisions when the regular season ends in the fall. Most likely, those teams at the top will be made up of players who have been developed and brought up through each team’s respective farm system, or what many of us know as the minor leagues. Baseball has a long history and the concept of a farm system where players are developed before entering the major leagues really began to take off in the 1940’s. In fact, one of the big changes in baseball during the 1940’s was the spread of the farm systems. Did the development of farm systems make that much of a difference in the quality of the major league teams? Bill James, a noted baseball historian had this to say concerning that time period in baseball history, “the aggressive organizations-the Cardinals, Yankees, Indians, Red Sox, Tigers, and Dodgers-were locking up so much of the talent in their farm systems that the teams without aggressive farm systems were falling off the edge of the earth (James, p.202).”

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Business owners, take note. There is something to be learned from the baseball farm system that must be a part of your business if the company is to achieve its best. Develop your people in a systematic and organized manner. The large successful companies know that people development must be at the very top of their priority list. Geoff Colvin says this in his excellent book, Talent Is Overrated, “The CEOs of top-performing companies agree that people development is at the center of their jobs. Indeed, the biggest investment involved may be the time of the CEO and other executives (Colvin, p.134, 135).” Notice, the CEOs time is largely spent developing his people. The result is a highly successful and effective organization. Look at your calendar as a business owner and honestly assess how much of your time is devoted to making sure the key people at your company are developed and trained to fill your company with the talent needed to compete in today’s business environment.

*James, Bill, (2001), The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract

*Colvin, Geoff, (2008), Talent Is Overrated

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