Break out the Champagne! My favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles, just clinched the championship of the American League East Division for the first time in 17 years.
This team is a pleasure to watch because it reminds me of the successful Oriole teams of my childhood. For those teams, the watchword was the Oriole Way. At a time when the phrase corporate culture probably hadn’t been invented, the Orioles had a corporate culture — and it was encapsulated in the Oriole Way.
The Oriole Way can simply be defined as playing baseball the right way. The classic Oriole teams were built on stout pitching and strong defense. But mostly, they rarely beat themselves by making mistakes.
Oriole players knew how to handle game situations because they’d been taught, from their first day in the minor leagues, how to make the right play. Then they practiced again and again until the right play became almost instinctive.
Oriole players were taught that the team came first, that winning championships trumps individual accolades.
A corporate culture is a delicate thing. Keep focused on your core values, and the corporate culture remains strong. Lose focus, and the culture is quickly damaged and ultimately can be destroyed.
After the last division championship in 1997, the Orioles endured a succession of losing seasons. As the losses piled up, as the team’s cohesion began to unravel, no one talked any more about the Oriole Way. You might say that the team lost its Way.
It’s great to see the Orioles winning again. But even more satisfying, it looks like the Oriole Way is making a comeback.
I want there to be an Oriole Way in the way I approach business. Every day I get to decide: Will I do things the right way or will I take shortcuts? Will I keep the big picture in mind or will I seek short-term gain?
What elements of corporate culture do you prize? How do you keep your corporate culture strong?