It’s not often that I think about poetry when I think about marketing (I suspect I’m not alone here). But I was reading an article from my colleagues recently that talked about “data to insight to impact” and it reminded me of a poem titled “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon.” The refrain there is “Tinker to Evers to Chance,” which references the names of the three baseball players from the Chicago Cubs who routinely made double plays during the heyday in the early 1910s. (Full disclosure here: I live in Boston and am a Red Sox fan — though not sure how I’d feel about Ortiz being mayor.)
It’s a wonderful poem, but what really got my mind ticking over was the idea of how success is so intricately connected with the ability of people to work effectively together. In a big company with tens of thousands of people, multiple reporting lines, massively complex data systems and huge challenges in managing information, that ability to connect the back officer operations with the front lines is what makes companies successful. Tinkers, Evers, and Chance weren’t just great ball players; they were ball players who were so in synch with each other that they made excellence seem effortless and helped the Cubs win.
On a sports team, that teamwork is relatively easy to see (especially when it’s not working). In a huge company, however, it’s much harder. You may be able to sense it or believe it but it requires real focus to understand it, isolate the real issues and fix them. Given the complexity most big business are facing, that’s no easy task. What happens in practice, then, is that companies focus on investments in single areas – more big data analytics, more product innovation, more research, more sales training. Unless that investment is tied to your business’ value chain — each of the steps, people, and functions in the organization a product or message must pass through to make it from concept to the market — then the investment just isn’t going to pay off.
So, when you’re thinking about you next marketing investment, think about Tinker, Evers, and Chance. And then think about how your investment is going to make it all the way through the organization to the point where it will have impact in the marketplace.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.