Chemistry Lessons from the Champs

Chemistry Lessons from the Champs

How Baseball Balances Experience and Emerging Talent to Build Winners

By: Mike McDonough


The Houston Astros are World Series Champions. It took them all seven games, but their homegrown heroes were able to overcome the $200 million dollar payroll of the LA Dodgers to bring a much-needed win to the people of Houston. So how did they do it? How to you overcome someone who can overspend for talent at every turn? They used balance, chemistry and out-of-the-box thinking to build a winning roster. And insurance companies can easily replicate their model to help build a championship team of their own…without blowing past their budget in the process.


Develop your Talent

The Astros had a ton of young talent on their roster. All those years of 100+ loss seasons brought them a bevy of top draft picks and those players arrived in the majors to help them build the powerhouse that brought the title to Houston. They drafted and developed the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman and made sure they were ready to win early when their moment arrived. But it won’t take years of losing for your firm to get more from your young talent. By employing a forward thinking hiring process – like partnering with a recruiting firm or planning your hiring needs years in advance – you can acquire young professionals with lots of potential. Then, by employing a training and mentorship program, you can get your new employees ready to embrace the big moments when they arrive in the future. This will help you create a talent pipeline that will fill your ranks and your boardroom for years to come.


Supplement with Experience

Even with all the young talent in their system, Houston needed veteran leadership to help push them over the edge. For their team, it meant bringing in the likes of Justin Verlander, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran to round out the roster. But with veteran players come veteran salaries, and those three alone made $61 million last season. Just like in baseball, if you want to hire veterans in the open market for your team, it can be an expensive endeavor. However, their presence and knowledge can also help your organization get to the next level. It’s best to value the veterans you have and set up mentorship programs to help spread their leadership to as many members of your team as possible. If necessary, you might have to overpay to bring in someone with more experience, but if you maximize their contributions and hire employees with the right chemistry, it could lead to big wins for your office.


Look for Talent, not Titles

It wasn’t just on the field that Houston built a championship team, their front-office staff took the organization from a 100+ loss operation to a 100+ win juggernaut in only four short years. How’d they turn it all around? But hiring analytical minds and number crunchers like Jeff Luhnow from Ivy League schools instead of the traditional baseball minds and former players that the rest of the teams were employing. They were looking for people who had fresh ideas and new approaches instead of the household names. In the insurance field, look for young, ambitious candidates who are willing to learn and show a passion for improvement. This will take them much farther in an evolving industry than a certain degree or checking off certifications. If you want them to have a certain background for your office, ask if they’d be willing to take courses or pursue those certifications once they’re hired. By taking this approach, you’ll be able to get someone with the right attitude and approach, and help them get the experience you desire. That can lead to more success and help you keep someone on board with your company long term.


The most important thing to remember, from the top of your organization on down, is that building the right chemistry for your team is critical for success. All the formulas, data and organizational charts won’t mean anything if you don’t have a staff that builds off of each other and pushes to be more than the sum of their parts. That’s how the Houston Astros got to the next level in the MLB, they combined experience, innovative thinking, and talent in a setting that encouraged individuality, camaraderie, and recognized the people behind the statistics were just as important as performance on the field. When you’re building your dream team, make sure you’re always keeping the human aspect in mind to create a community in your office that will work well together as you work toward your championship ambitions.

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