In 1886 sixteen Major League Baseball teams travelled to Florida for the first Spring Training. They used the month of preseason workouts and exhibition games to prepare for the upcoming season. That has certainly grown into the ritual for Major League Baseball.

How could your organization benefit from some Spring Training? I am not talking about traveling to Florida. How about taking the concept for Spring Training and applying it to the organization you lead?

How does Spring Training relate to the business world? I think it resonates in three areas:

1. Onboarding, launching, or relaunching a team

2. Focusing on the fundamentals of your game

3. Evaluation and choosing your team members to start the season

Onboarding, Launching, or Relaunching a Team

Bringing the entire team together to launch a new project or at a “change of season” can have significant value. Ever been part of an ongoing team that continually moved from one project or season to the next without pausing? That leaves newcomers to assimilate on their own and absorb the team purpose, objectives, and goals. Newcomers are unsure of themselves while veterans keep moving along the established path. Taking time to regularly recalibrate the key objectives has a uniting effect.

The minimum requirements in my opinion are to:

– Set the team purpose; why does this team exist?

– Set expectations; define success.

– Establish team norms; how the team is to work together.

Work on the Fundamentals

Everyone arrives at Spring Training with an expected level of expertise, so what does it mean to work on the fundamentals? The fundamentals are how this team is to operate, putting all the elements from Onboarding/Launch into practice. This is how “we” do it. The goal is to ensure everyone understands how this particular team executes the fundamentals. This puts everyone on the same page and reduces the friction of daily operations. The fundamentals of execution, culture, and norms become second nature.

Everyone gets the opportunity to show what they are capable of in game situations. Test the fundamentals, test the culture fit, and assess how each individual contributes to the overall purpose and objectives.

Evaluate and Choose Your Team Members

This is the ultimate purpose of Spring Training. You are choosing a team to accomplish a specific purpose. Be deliberate on the size of the team, the skills required, and the composition of the members. Chose at the start of the season does not mean the member is there for life. A decision an individual is not ready allows you to develop that individual’s specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for a later time. The team may require changes during its journey. Spring Training provides insight and preparation for members required to join later.

The concept of “Spring Training” in every setting allows teams to be deliberate about setting themselves up for success. How can you incorporate it for the teams you lead?