Those familiar with the game of baseball will know the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule. When in the battle between pitcher and batter, three attempted strikes, or three balls that are not taken but are deemed strikable, are thrown the batter is ‘out’. Nil points.
The three strikes rule has famously been used by President Clinton to introduce life sentencing for third time offenders in the USA. In fact the three strikes rule is widely understood to mean that if you have been unable to hit the mark, after three attempts you should not be given any more chances.
How do we apply this to the teams that we are in? A team effort does after all depend on people delivering on the responsibility they were given, so that others can build on their contribution. If one repeatedly (three seems a good number) fails to do so, sanctions should be the consequence.
This works in teams only if there is good feedback when the first ‘strike’ is called. In baseball a loud : “Strike ONE” from the umpire will leave nobody, especially not the batter, under any illusion what happened. Make sure this is true in your team as well.
It is also clear in baseball what the ground rules are before the batter steps up to the plate. “If I miss three strikes, I am out”. Again, there is no ambiguity. Make sure in your teams that the rules are clear before you can begin to keep score.
Finally; strike-outs happen. They are part of the game and they are part of teamwork. There is always another innings and another game. In baseball some of the biggest homerun hitters also get the most strike-outs. If the team wants to celebrate the big performances it will have to accept the strike-outs too.
Team work, like baseball, is about individual performance and accountability. ‘Three strikes’ is a great concept to introduce into your team.