Paul DePodesta is a baseball guy who was made famous in Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball. At the time of the writing he was the assistant to A’s general manager Billy Beane, and then went on to serve as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now he works in the front office for the San Diego Padres. On his blog, he writes about the basics of building a successful team. The key is to focus on process rather than outcome:
We all want to be in the upper left box – deserved success resulting from a good process. This is generally where the casino lives. I’d like to think that this is where the Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres have been during the regular seasons. The box in the upper right, however, is the tough reality we all face in industries that are dominated by uncertainty. A good process can lead to a bad outcome in the real world. In fact, it happens all the time. This is what happened to the casino when a player hit on 17 and won. I’d like to think this is what happened to the A’s and Padres during the post-seasons.
As tough as a good process/bad outcome combination is, nothing compares to the bottom left: bad process/good outcome. This is the wolf in sheep’s clothing that allows for one-time success but almost always cripples any chance of sustained success – the player hitting on 17 and getting a four. Here’s the rub: it’s incredibly difficult to look in the mirror after a victory, any victory, and admit that you were lucky.
The whole article is well worth reading.