It is often the arrogance of an organization that makes it think that its best employees will always want to work there. An organization takes its talent for granted at the peril of the organization’s goals.
(Warning: this blog post contains baseball commentary. It is also using baseball as a metaphor for life.)
(and it has a picture of Larry Lucchino)
The Red Sox recently lost their bid to bring back free agent pitcher Jon Lester. The same left-handed pitcher who helped them win two World Series championships in the past seven years.
Oh, he also beat cancer as a young player.
This summer he was coming up on Free Agency, which in baseball means that he has the blessing of the Major League Baseball to make more money than God.
Except that he was willing to come back to the Red Sox for a discount, which is only slightly less than God makes.
The Red Sox in turn made him an insulting offer (giving baseball standards) and then traded him to another team.
Throughout this whole time they appeared to be confident that Lester, arguably one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball (for those who are still reading this, but don’t know about baseball, left-handed pitching is kind of a big deal), would be coming home for a discount.
And then he accepted an offer from the Cubs that was $20 million more than the offer from the Red Sox.
And then he said this.
To sum up, Lester admits that he basically would have stayed with the Red Sox had they not traded him. And by all accounts, they traded him, thinking that he would return (they offered him $135 million for six years and the owner John Henry made a personal visit to his house to woo him).
Time will tell if losing Lester sets the organization back next year. The Red Sox are a wealthy club with owners who are willing to spend their way out of mistakes. What it does tell us is that the Red Sox are an organization that made some fairly poor miscalculations about itself and how attractive it is to a player who grew up with them.
In a market where talent is the product, their communication with Lester was both clumsy and tone-deaf.
This is also an indication of what happens to companies that take their talent for granted. It is arrogance that makes an organization believe that its brand is bigger than the sum of its parts. When we value the people who bring value to the organization, when we don’t play games with their futures, when we treat them with respect and integrity, good things tend to happen.