Theo Epstein is the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs – oh, did you hear? – just broke a 108-year “curse” by winning the World Series.
Epstein is a pioneer of the analytics movement in baseball: finding, understanding and relentlessly acting on the variables that truly correlate with winning. Prior to joining the Cubs he was General Manager for the Boston Red Sox where he helped them win two World Series titles (and break their own curse, albeit a meager one of 86 years).
Here’s an insight into Epstein’s unique approach: when it comes to player acquisition and development he focuses on personal traits, not just physical ability and skills. And the trait he looks for above all others? Overcoming adversity. Baseball, like any sport, like any line of work, like life, invariably brings adversity. How a player responds to adversity is a key determinant of success. So when considering a prospect, Epstein asks for three examples of how the prospect has overcome adversity outside of baseball as well as three baseball-related examples. Why? Because overcoming adversity reveals tenacity and persistence … and correlates with winning.
When you’re selecting people into your organization do you assess the traits that are critical to success? Do you, to use Epstein’s words, “scout the person more than the player”?