The Philadelphia Phillies: The benefits of a holistic workforce

Disclosure--I am a lifelong, die-hard phan of the Philadelphia Phillies.

If you are from the Northeast part of the U.S., odds are that you understand how serious this region takes its sports. If you are from the Philadelphia-area, you know the passion with which we approach our sports. It is far beyond taking it "seriously"--we live it. We see our sports teams in ourselves, and we demand that those fortunate enough to play give us everything that they have to win. Work hard. Think hard. Play hard. Winning is the ultimate destination, but we are far more forgiving of a player who never actually makes it, as long as he throws himself into it while in one of our city's uniforms (Lenny Dykstra, for example) than we are of one who has incredible talent but doesn't understand the psyche of putting the game before himself (i.e. T.O. or Eric Lindros). I think Paul Hagen at explains it best by using Raul Ibanez's experience in Philadelphia since he arrived in the 2008 off-season.

That should provide you with some context.

How does this relate to our objective here at The Seamless Workforce? Simple, the Philadelphia Phillies, should they win the NLCS, will be on the verge of becoming the first team in the National League to win back-to-back World Series titles since Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" in 1975 and 1976, have a world-class talent management strategy from top to bottom. It's crystal clear that they evaluate talent at every point in their operation--not just on-field personnel--and set forth clear strategies for how that talent will help drive the ultimate objective: winning it all.


Full Time Staff

The most visible W2s in the Phillies organization are the on-field staff--the core of which are home-grown products. Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels were all drafted by the Phillies, and played in the Phils' minor league system. It demonstrates the necessary foresight that we must maintain when hiring. Today, this hire might be a fairly insignificant single contributor, but with proper development, can mature into a key element for the most critical part of operations.


Staff Augmentation and Outsourcing

Speaking of the farm system, not many realize this, but it is merely associated with the major league club. There is ownership at the regional level that runs the team (that is to say, the facility), the staff necessary to maintain it, and the marketing of the product to that region. It is not a unique model. It is a partnership between the ownership of the major league team and that of the minor league team. Operations are outsourced to the minor league ownership, and the staff of the major league team is augmented by those that oversee operations at the local level. A successful farm system requires a successful partnership between the two.

At the home office in Philadelphia, there are more examples of properly augmenting staff to ensure products and services are delivered well. Those that serve the Phillies faithful at the ball park do not work for the Phillies, but for their partners who provide concession staff. Decisions are made by the Phillies management, and they are decisions that deserve praise from anyone who has enjoyed a game at Citizen's Bank Park. In fact, the experience in Ashburn Alley is perhaps unmatched anywhere in the league, and recently received accolades for some of the best food at any MLB park.

Broadcasting affiliation is another area where we can speak about intelligent outsourcing partnerships. Television and radio broadcasters are paid by the Phillies, but local TV reporting provided by Comcast SportsNet employs their own. It's a fantastic addition, and the Phillies and Comcast work well together to enhance the value delivered to the fans. Journalistic broadcasting is not a core part of the Phillies operation, but is critical to the marketing of the club. An intelligent workforce plan is to develop that partnership and place a high priority on it. This clip probably says it best. It's Comcast anchors Michael Barkin, Ricky Botalico and Darren Daulton "off-camera" celebrating Jimmy Rollins' walk-off double in Game 4 of the NLCS.

Last, but certainly not least, is the intelligent investment of outsourced talent that eventually breeds a permanent member of the staff who provides value unsurpassed in the entire league--the Philly Phanatic. The Phanatic was not always owned by the Phillies, so you can consider the great, green Tommy Lasorda nemesis a temporary member of the Phillies staff. But, over time, the Green Guy's brand and value were synonymous with the Phillies, and soon became a member of the fold.



The 2008 Philadelphia Phillies traded for Matt Stairs, a journeyman and power bat that came off the bench in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS to launch a game-winning homerun. This year, the late season addition that has had the most significant impact on performance was Cliff Lee--a left-handed hurler whose ERA was below 1.00 throughout the first two rounds of the series. Recruiting talent (OK--these were trades, but let's suspend some belief to go with the analogy for a minute) to fill key positions is many times a difference maker. There are hosts of scouts that make such recruitment possible. They evaluate talent for raw skills, but also how they will fit into the organization.


Succession Planning

There have been three General Managers for the Phillies since 2006--Ed Wade, Pat Gillick, and now Ruben Amaro, Jr. There was a clear succession plan in place that capitalized on the skill sets of each. Ed Wade was a rookie GM who placed his focus on the development of that home grown talent we spoke of earlier. Pat Gillick was brought on to help push the talented team over the hump. Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been associated with the Phillies for years, and comes in on the heels of Gillick, his mentor, but with a fresher perspective on the business of the game. There was a clear plan in place for what the intent of each was. For instance, Ed Wade had only one path--out of the organization--but it was effective for having him become the GM of the Houston Astros after his time with the Phillies. The importance of such a plan is clearly illustrated in the talent development we discussed, but perhaps best by GM Pat Gillick praising his predecessor for his work when he received the National League Champion trophy in 2008.


The result of this incredibly comprehensive workforce strategy: record setting attendance for the 2009 season, and a potential trip to play another team that knows a thing or two about effectively managing a workforce--the New York Yankees.


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