Stick With the Plan

Stick with the plan. Phillip Kane's blog
Photo credit: Christopher Alvarenga |

Friday, October 29, 2021

Last Saturday, the Atlanta Braves clinched a World Series berth by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4 – 2 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in Atlanta. It was another accomplishment in an improbable season for the Braves, who sat in 3rd place in their division in May, having never, to that point, been above .500 all season.

It was then, that the team’s management made a decision to begin implementing “The Shift,” a commonly used strategy in baseball, where the pitching team literally shifts all of its defensive players to the side of the field where an opposing batter is known to most frequently hit the ball. See, up ‘til then, the Braves had eschewed the shift, using it less than any other team in the game.

But after the decision was made to employ the tactic, the Braves started winning. Then disaster struck. Just before the All-Star break, Atlanta lost star outfielder Ronald Acuna, Jr. to a season ending injury. Against the odds, the Braves stuck with the shift and kept winning … all the way to the NLCS.

Then, Saturday, in the fourth inning of Game 6, LA’s Cody Bellinger slapped a single the other way to beat Atlanta’s shift and tie the game at 1 apiece and causing the team to again question whether to stick with the plan.

But stick with it they did, ultimately prevailing by shutting down 9 straight Dodger hitters in the last three innings. Along the way, the Atlanta plan didn’t always look like the right one. But they proved yet again that winning is found by those with the discipline to make plans then stick with them.

And that’s the point for the week.

Had the Atlanta Braves decided to bail on the shift at any point after May, there is little doubt that any other team but them would be playing in the World Series today. The Braves committed to their plan and stuck with it, even when doing so seemed not the best course of action. That’s because the Braves understand a fundamental truth of life – one that applies to efforts in business, at home, in sport and in our communities: not every day is going to be a good one.

Life is going to be chock full of setbacks. Teams often take a step back for every two or three they take forward. It’s just the way it is. It is, though, the teams that have the wherewithal to tread on through, staying the course, that win most often. This occurs partly because they waste less time and resources moving to and fro, but mostly because they build trust which is the fuel that powers all winning organizations.

By picking a plan and sticking with it, those who lead these teams likewise establish a degree of predictability and consistency from which trust may flourish. See, workers have little appreciation for, and even less trust in, scattershot management, flavor of the day strategies or here today, gone tomorrow initiatives. Most serious people want to work for serious people; individuals with the ability to maintain a consistent thought and the discipline to stick with things even when the going gets tough.

One need not be a baseball fan to grasp the significance of what occurred in Atlanta or in any organization that wins by choosing a plan then sticking with it. While it seems magical, it’s truly far from it. It’s moreover the result of a simple choice to keep on keeping on, come what may, firm in the belief that one’s plan is the right one, sticking to it until the champagne corks start to fly.

So, pick a plan. Then stick with it.

And win.

To pre-order Phillip’s new book, please follow this LINK.

Decision Making

Decide with Others

Decide with others. Phillip Kane's blog.
Photo credit: Philipp Katzenberger |

Friday, October 22, 2021

This week, my son, Will, and I have been looking for a new car for him. As the process has unfolded, it has become abundantly clear to me that, other than the make and model, we are not in absolute agreement on much else. The colors I like are not his speed. The equipment and trim levels I want are different from those he’s a fan of too. Even the exterior graphics are a matter of some contention.  But as I thought more about it this morning, I became less surprised by it all. People are different. And accordingly, people approach decisions with their own point of view, likes, dislikes, needs and wants.

And that’s the point for the week.

For leaders, one of the hardest lessons to not just learn, but to put into daily practice, is that just because we like something does not mean everyone else likes it too. If those working for you are telling you that they do, you’ve got a serious cultural problem that could include you being a bully or at the very least, having scared your people away from ever disagreeing with you.  That’s because everyone always agreeing on everything is not only unnatural, it’s unhealthy.

Diversity of thought and input leads to better decisions … and the sort of place people actually want to work in.  When as a leader, you impose your will on every significant choice, you are eliminating the opportunity to consider alternative outcomes – many of which could ultimately be better than yours. What’s more, no one wants to work in a culture where their voice is never heard.

People want to believe that their input matters and that they are making a difference in their work. When their input is ignored, those needs go unmet, engagement wanes and eventually, these people leave. The current mass exodus from the workplace known as the “Great Resignation” has been fueled in no small part by people who are fed up with not being listened to by autocratic, narcissistic bosses. Workers are no longer accepting the unacceptable. If their needs, like being heard, are not met by their employers, they will walk.

But keeping these people and at once creating both an attractive culture and an improved decision-making engine is not hard. It’s the result of a simple choice: a choice to solicit, listen to and act on the input of those one has the privilege to lead. For most narcissists, this is nigh on impossible. But for the rest of us, it’s easy. And what results is a thing of beauty.

When more people are included in the significant decisions that drive an organization, trust spirals. Engagement soars. And overall results leap forward due to improved decision quality. Best of all, when things go wrong, and they will, there’s almost no finger-pointing, acrimony or other bad behavior; because people will tend not complain about the taste of soup they helped make – or the color of a car they helped choose.

So, include others in decisions.

And win.

To pre-order Phillip’s new book, please follow this link:

Decision Making

Make New Decisions Based On New Information

Make new decisions based on new information. Phillip Kane's blog.
Photo credit: Joel Heard |

Friday, October 15, 2021

This week, I had the occasion to appeal to the good nature of a potential advertiser for my blog site, who had initially come to the conclusion that there might not be a fit between them and AndWin. However, after providing their representative with some additional insights, they were able to see that a relationship made sense after all. They, then, made a decision to move forward. (Go ahead and click on them in this link.) To the casual observer, the advertiser changed their mind. But people almost never do so. Rather, folks most often make new decisions based on new information.

And that’s the point for the week.

Whether in business, parenting or any other sort of human relationship, each day will present sometimes handfuls of opportunities for us to both rethink choices we’ve made and to prevail upon others to do the same. Almost never do people, once their mind is firmly established, change a previously made decision, absent some motivating influence to the contrary. They just don’t. Even people who appear indecisive, who quickly vacillate between one option or another, are doing little more than rapidly processing information and weighing the impact of that data on each potential choice.

So, accordingly, people rarely change their minds. They simply make new decisions based on new information.

I’m not sure who said it first. It’s assuredly not a point that’s original to me. It is a point that defines the actual process of recalculation and, when considered in this way, changes, or should, the way we think about the way people choose.

People will almost always act in their own best interest, seeking to amplify any of money, power, sex or baser needs like freedom, food/water/shelter, or self-preservation. A shift from one possibility to another has, at its core, an understanding that in doing so, one of those 6 things are going to improve (or not get any worse). So, helping someone make a new decision based on new information isn’t manipulation, it’s a mere act of ensuring that someone knows all they need to know in order to make a fully informed decision.

When leaders approach situations accordingly, the instinct to bully is often replaced by a desire to learn what truly matters to the decider, then to seek a way to bridge the gap. Threats of force or removal of freedoms or base needs works for a time, but only as long as it takes people to find new ways of accessing what matters to them. It’s why mandates almost never work in the long run.

It’s leaders who help facilitate new decisions based on new information – decisions that actually make the life of the decider better – who win in the long term. It happens not only because it’s how each of us decides ourselves, but because it’s a path carved out by trust, patience, and love. It’s the way that true, self-secure leaders help others decide, and how the organizations they lead consistently and perennially deliver extraordinary results.

So, help others make new decisions based on new information.

And win.

To pre-order Phillip Kane’s new book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, please follow this LINK.


Empathize with Others

Empathize with others. Phillip Kane's Blog
Image: Archbishop Hoban High School

October 9, 2021

This week was the annual cross-town Catholic high-school football rivalry game between the school our children have attended, Archbishop Hoban and St. Vincent-St. Mary (of LeBron James fame). For Hoban, St.V week culminates with “Mum Day,” on game day, Friday, during which students do not utter a sound for the entire school day.

For our son, William, our youngest and a Senior, it is his last St. V weekend. For Seniors, St. V week is a big deal. It includes Lock-In on Thursday night, a giant slumber party that includes decorating the building with pro-Hoban and anti-St. V banners, then waking early to line the driveway in order to welcome underclassmen with often exaggerated and even menacing shushing motions, warning them to be quiet — that this is Mum Day!

For his mother and I, it was all a bit melancholy — our 12th and last St. V week. But as I considered things further, it occurred to me that for Will, although it was his final Mum Day, it was his first last Mum Day. For him, it was less about being sad, and more about experiencing St. V week as a Senior for the very first time. It was a reminder that in everything, perspective matters.

And that’s the point for the week.

What we’re feeling isn’t always what others are feeling. As leaders, it’s critical to remember that. It’s a key to building the emotional intelligence and empathy that are necessary for other human beings to willingly follow us.

See, it’s virtually impossible to make someone else feel what we feel. Trying to do so will leave a mark, and not a good one.  That’s because people arrive at any situation with their own unique tapestry of experiences, thoughts, emotions, and expectations — each entirely different from another. What people feel matters to them; they want to be understood, not manipulated. Those who first recognize this and who then take the time to understand these individual differences will thrive as leaders.

This occurs because those who create empathy create trust. And in the currency of human relationships, the value of trust is second only to love. Trust is offered in return for an absolute belief that I matter, my feelings matter, my ideas matter and my well-being matters to the person I’m trusting. This cannot and will not happen until that person puts themself in my place, until they develop a complete understanding of what it means to be me — until they empathize with me.

Leaders who adopt the perspective of others — who truly empathize with others — create a trust that results in followers who will do nearly anything for them because those same people know that, if the roles were reversed, their leader would do anything for them.

It’s a simple matter of changing your perspective, starting with having the emotional intelligence to do so.

So, empathize with others.

And win.

For more about the author, visit

Little Things

Get the Small Stuff Right

Get the small stuff right. Phillip Kane's blog
Image: ESPN

October 1, 2021

Last week, my beloved Tennessee Volunteers played the University of Florida in The Swamp. After a tightly contested first quarter, and a Florida 3 and out early in the second, the Gators’ punt team took the field with just over 13:00 to play in the first half. As the Vols sent their return team onto the field, and a delay of game penalty was being marked off against Florida, confusion seemed to set in on the Vols sideline. The camera isolated on Vols number 1, Velus Jones, Jr., tentatively jogging off the field, just prior to the snap. Then, incredulously, Florida punted to an entirely empty Tennessee backfield. A 58-yard kick rolled unceremoniously to a dead stop, surrounded by a horde of Gators, with not a Vol in sight. Adding insult to injury, the color commentator noted that not only had Tennessee failed to mount a return, they’d fielded only 9 players – 2 short of the number allowed.

See, Tennessee has two number 1s – Velus Jones, Jr. and Trevon Flowers. Somehow both had run onto the field prior to the return. While it is standard operating procedure for teams to pass out the same number to more than one player, it’s against the rules for two players with the same number to occupy the playing field at the same time. Apparently, Velus’ coach and Trevon’s coach had discovered the mistake at roughly the same time, and both called their players off the field, leaving only 9 to play the down. Watch it here.

While it’s funny in a ha ha sort of way, it’s symptomatic of a team that’s been rebuilding since it fired Phil Fulmer in 2008. But “rebuilding” is just a euphemism for failing to do the thousands of little things that are required to achieve even one big thing. See, when you repeatedly fail to get the little things right, you never get the big things done.

And that’s the point for the week.

Big things are, in reality, just successions of many smaller things. Winners, in sport, in business, and in all other facets of life know this. It’s why they are fanatical about small things. These are people you will find stooping to pick up trash in their parking lots, people who make sure the back of their buildings look as good as the front, people who take the time to speak to those they pass as they walk about, and people who count the number of players on the field while paying attention to the numbers on their backs. They do these things because they know that people follow the example of their leaders. When they show care and concern for the little things, those who follow them are more likely to as well.

These people also know that accomplishing the extraordinary requires extraordinary trust. They likewise know that trust is never gained all at once but progressively, over time, one small act after another, creating the consistency, predictability and transparency that are required for trust to take hold.

With trust, and the love that follows it, human teams can accomplish almost anything. They do so because once trust is established, people will do almost anything to keep it. They will ensure that every little thing is attended to because the thought of disappointing those who trust them is among the worst things they can imagine.

Like most else in life, getting the small stuff right is a choice. Those who choose correctly win. Those who don’t suffer loss after loss, like watching punted balls slowly roll to a stop inside their own ten-yard line.

So, choose to get the small stuff right.

And win.

To pre-order Phillip’s new book, please follow this link: