Making A Splash With Championship Culture
Guest Blog by Joel Goldberg, Public Speaker, Broadcaster and Baseball Reporter for the Kansas City Royals
Culture never takes a day off. Or more importantly, a successful organization never stops paying attention to the little things. Dayton Moore, the general manager and architect of the Kansas City Royals baseball team lives and breathes culture. Moore took over a perennial loser on the field in 2006. How much did they struggle? No team in Major League Baseball lost more than the Royals to start the 21st century. A record of 672-948 put Kansas City dead last of thirty teams from 2000-2009.
I first met Moore in 2007, a year before I began broadcasting Royals baseball. When I asked him what he hoped to accomplish in KC, he replied, “I want to build a championship culture.” He explained that he didn’t just mean with the 25 players in the locker room. He mentioned the ticket takers, the beer vendors, the scouts, and the fans throughout the city and region. I can admit with honesty now that I was skeptical based on the history and numbers.
That strong belief in culture and a discipline to stay the course resulted in the organization ending a 30-year drought in 2015 when they won their first World Series in a generation.
Trust the process
One of the key ingredients in building a championship culture is trust. Moore kept repeating the phrase “trust the process” throughout the Royals resurgence. The process meant finding players who fit the Royals identity. A priority on defense and speed. In a world where the big market giants spend mega bucks on power, a smaller market club like Kansas City needs to find ways to compete with less dollars. Searching for talent that fits while focusing on character.
That process begins by not just selecting young men out of high school and college based on their abilities. It means spending years learning more about the personality of these future employees and envisioning if they would fit the Royals culture. Young men with positive energy and a passion to play the game. A passion for their work.
“The Royals Way”
As these young minor leaguers climbed through the Royals system, they learned about the expectations within the organization and how to go about their business. “The Royals Way.” No corners cut. No player rushed. When these
prospects reached the major leagues, management and coaches remained patient and allowed them to fail, often times leaving them in games during crucial situations knowing a better option existed on the bench that might lead to a win. The manager regularly explained after the game that he needed the young player to experience failure at that moment because the payoff would come in the future when the Royals played for a championship. Trust the process.
Culture never takes a day off
Eight hundred thousand fans gathered at the championship parade in November 2015. That’s what Moore spoke about when he said he wanted to include everyone in the culture. Not just the 25 players. The full city and region, all on the same page. Fast forward three years and Moore’s championship roster no longer exists. Just like the business world, times change and people move on. The Royals suffered their second worst season in franchise history in 2018 but during the struggles, the next generation of talent began to arrive in the big league clubhouse with more coming. These young men will arrive with a full understanding of the “Royals Way,” having observed the culture their predecessors passed on. Process over results for now. Culture never takes a day off.