By:  Holly Horning

I often write about the importance of corporate culture – the way people within a group look, behave and think. It defines the group to others and sets expectations. When the group is cohesive in this respect, it bodes well for their reputation and helps them stand out above their competition.

Conversely, if there is no system or common thread within an organization, they really have a weak identity. And chances are that they don’t have the track record they desire. They get lost within their industry.

As a branding consultant, I go into companies to help establish or strengthen their brand. When you identify the variables that make the difference, and show the importance of them, you get everyone on the same page. And when everyone knows what is expected, they start to work as a team and produce on a similar level of standards.

Which is why my ears perked up when I heard a radio interview, followed up by reading the book on the importance of corporate culture in baseball. And given that this week is the start of Labor Day Weekend, what a perfect time to suggest some reading material.

Dayton Moore is the GM of the Kansas City Royals and has a master’s degree in Athletic Administration. After a very successful career with the Braves, he moved to the Royals. Moore is widely credited with helping hone the vision and direction of the Royals which led them to winning the World Series in 2015 and nearly missing out in 2014. It took him less than 10 years to build the winning team – a team entirely from scratch – and on a payroll that ranged from $81 million to $125 million. He’s won multiple awards including several as MLB Top Executive.

Dayton wrote a book entitled More Than a Season: Building a Championship Culture. It starts with a story about a struggling baseball team with little success and how the new ideas he brought to the team helped turn them around. It’s also about the many people who helped support this new path and implemented these actions.

Stories that emphasized having a vision and leadership that are essential to building and maintaining a team. Identifying areas that need to be torn down and completely rebuilt like the farm system and scouting.

But one of the biggest take-aways from his book is about having a system. A system that is spelled out in detail about the identity of the team and the standards and behavior expected.

In fact, the word “expectations” is big in Moore’s book. He uses it a lot because, as he explains, it inspires uniform performance from everyone within the organization.

A case in point is his story about new players who come into the organization. They are automatically introduced to the Royals’ Way of playing ball. They are educated in the methods and the other players are there to show, by example, how it’s done. And they enforce the rules, too.

Everyone plays the same way. Everyone is expected to put equal amounts of effort into their work. Everyone is expected to help their teammates both on and off the field.

It’s telling when you have current players contributing to the book’s intro, dedications and reviews. And given the Royals’ resurgence lately despite a variety of setbacks, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that they are trying to make another run for October baseball.

This is what happens when you have a strong corporate culture.


  1. Perhaps an inflection point for the undocumented Tiger Way. Also successful are the Cardinal and even Giants Way, setting a winning culture and building a healthy young talent pipeline. Alas my discouragement with the Upton deal. Even the splashy FA signings of young clubs like the Cubs, Mets are frosting atop the foundation of young farm talent.


  2. Moore has said he was given complete autonomy from David Glass who he said “owned a baseball team for the right reasons”. Do we know if Mr. I gives autonomy to his GM’s? All teams have a culture by default or design, & given that our current GM was part of the previous executive team, any significant change seems doubtful.


  3. “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.” I wish I could attribute this to its source, but I don’t know who it is. It is surely true, however! This is a great and timely post, Holly! Thank you.


  4. The Royals did a good job with a outside the box philosophy of building their team around their very unique big ball park. They were able to get the best bang for their buck taking advantage of cheap defensive outfielders to go along with undervalued flyball pitchers. Some very lean times coming soon though as the cupboard becomes very bare when this group all hits free agency.


  5. I worked for both dominos and little ceasers Corp. Personalities carried much.watching tigers over the years Holly is right about all that. Mr i verses dominos is shown in teams play over the years.


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