SRH | What is chemistry?

What is chemistry?


Despite MLB’s current impasse on the collective bargaining agreement, we can learn a lot from what happens in the dugout.

In my first Dispatch article about business and baseball, I wrote about what makes good culture. In today’s Dispatch, I highlight another critically important aspect of success: chemistry.

In the book: Bochy Ball! The Chemistry of Winning and Losing in Baseball, Business, and Life, Bruce Bochy, the former manager of the San Francisco Giants, describes the night one of his pitchers threw a perfect game. The authors summarize the story of that game this way: “There are so many variables and so many moving parts — over 125 pitches that everyone must be in sync. The parts have to function as a whole. One lapse in concentration, one botched play, one missed signal, and the opportunity for a perfect game is gone. Chemistry in baseball — and in any other human endeavor for that matter — depends to a large degree on how team-oriented the individual players are.”

BTW, there have only been 23 perfect games in MLB history.

What is chemistry?

  • Chemistry is the prerequisite for profoundly rewarding achievements, the kind that blows our minds by demonstrating the extraordinary heights to which the human spirit can rise.

  • Chemistry springs forth when people value collaboration, cooperation, and connectivity over self-interest, individuality and personal achievement.

  • With chemistry, people take the initiative to build deep-seated, meaningful and trusting relationships.

  • Chemistry is more likely to happen with good and talented people.

Tips for building championship chemistry:

  • Bad attitudes suck. It drains the energy from teams. Eliminate it.

  • Establish personally meaningful team goals, in addition to your team’s business goals. Is there something else important your team can work towards that you can all rally behind?

  • Chemistry fails or flourishes based on how we see and treat people. You have more influence and more impact on players (your employees) when you treat them like human beings, not property, or robots.

  • Show the people you work with and care about how important they are to the bigger thing you’re all fighting for.

  • Consistently make the critical link between individual contributions and the larger cause.

Some simple questions to ask on the way to building chemistry:

  • Do unselfishness, trust and collective celebration characterize your players?

  • Do they play as one? For a larger cause?

  • Does a positive emotional bond unite them?

  • Do they play full throttle for shared goals?

  • How much time, energy, money and other resources have been wasted on a team that doesn’t gel?

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

—Babe Ruth