The 2016 Chicago Cubs – A Success Model for Business (And Life)

successI have to admit it, being originally from Chicago, I am ecstatic about the Chicago Cubs playing in the World Series. After all, it has been quite a drought for achievement for the organization. 1945 was the last World Series the Cubs participated in and 1908 is the last time they won. I recall my youth where I often rooted for Cub legends Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo on a sunny Summer day in the confines of friendly Wrigley Field. Being a Cub fan is etched on my soul and with recollections of great past memories.

What is amazing about the 2016 team, is that they rose to greatness rapidly and utilized a performance model for success that should be noted by all, not just those who follow sports. The model is based on several core principals including: Leadership, Strategy, Operational Excellence, and Espirit de corps. These are principals that can be shared for success in business and for success in life.

Leadership: A winning outcome usually starts at the top in in this case it certainly did with the hiring of Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein. Theo, prior to joining the Cubs, brought the Boston Red Sox their first Championship in 86 years in 2004. He brought to the Cubs a track record of accomplishment, management experience, confidence, and especially vision – elements that have been lacking for most of their baseball history.

Strategy: Theo Epstein had a plan for the Cubs. 1) change their culture, 2) Build a Minor League Farm System, 3) trade for the best fitting talent, and 4) build depth. He analyzed strengths and weaknesses, he hired management talent that fit his vision, and he encouraged investment by owners into the training facilities. He also got the team and the fans excited about the future. Almost overnight he orchestrated trades for future Major Leaguers and revamped the Cubs farm system. He looked for young, talented and eager players and mixed the with experienced players. He pursued and signed free agents. He sought contingency fills in case of injuries and solid depth to address the ups and downs and make it through a long and sometimes challenging season.

Operational Excellence: For any organization or company to function, you need strong management skills imbued with positivity and capability. Joe Maddon, the Chicago Cubs Manager epitomizes those qualities. His players respect him and honor him. He also brings innovation from years of coaching and playing experience to the table. Such innovation has led to victories when least expected. This includes reactivating and adding slugger Kyle Schwarber to the roster who had been on the injured list most of the yea. As the Designated Hitter he helped win the Cubs their first game in a World series since 1945 in game two. Madden is known for not giving up on his players and instead finding ways to help them get out of slumps and succeed. He creates an environment for good things to happen. This is a model that applies to everything in life.

Espirit des Corps: The Cubs are really a fun bunch, you see it everyday in the media. They enjoy playing together and succeeding together. They are also a culturally diverse group of people who share common goals. The players and coaches know how to not take the game too seriously. They see to enjoy life and often rib each other while at the same time being a professional. This is the work/life balance that we all strive for and few grasp — the Ying/Yang of life.

Game three now moves to Chicago and hopefully the Cubs will continue their incredible year. They are certainly a team that has the right attitude, dedication, and determination to win it all. I know that Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, is looking down and watching the implementation of the 2016 Cub’s model of success and is quite proud.


Chuck Brooks
Chuck Brooks
Chuck Brooks is a globally recognized thought leader and evangelist for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies. LinkedIn named Chuck as one of “The Top 5 Tech People to Follow on LinkedIn”. He was named by Thompson Reuters as a “Top 50 Global Influencer in Risk, Compliance,” and by IFSEC as the “#2 Global Cybersecurity Influencer” in 2018. He is also a Cybersecurity Expert for “The Network” at the Washington Post, Visiting Editor at Homeland Security Today, and a Contributor to FORBES. In government, Chuck has received two senior Presidential appointments. Under President George W. Bush Chuck was appointed to The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the first Legislative Director of The Science & Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security. He also was appointed as Special Assistant to the Director of Voice of America under President Reagan. He served as a top Advisor to the late Senator Arlen Specter on Capitol Hill covering security and technology issues on Capitol Hill. In local government, he also worked as an Auxiliary Police officer for Arlington, Virginia. In industry, Chuck has served in senior executive roles for General Dynamics as the Principal Market Growth Strategist for Cyber Systems, at Xerox as Vice President & Client Executive for Homeland Security, for Rapiscan and Vice President of R & D, for SRA as Vice President of Government Relations, and for Sutherland as Vice President of Marketing and Government Relations. In academia, Chuck is Adjunct Faculty at Georgetown University’s Applied Intelligence Program and graduate Cybersecurity Programs where he teaches courses on risk management, homeland security, and cybersecurity. He was an Adjunct Faculty Member at Johns Hopkins University where he taught a graduate course on homeland security for two years. He has an MA in International relations from the University of Chicago, a BA in Political Science from DePauw University, and a Certificate in International Law from The Hague Academy of International Law.

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  1. A great representation of success, that’s what the Chicago Cubs is, yes. After going through so much failure in the past, with the record of 108 years. The dedication and perseverance of this team is unimaginable. They had been through countless batting and missing. In the end, everything is all worth it. The end or maybe just the beginning.