There’s much joy in Chicago as the Cubs ended a 108-year old drought by winning the World Series. While this success must be attributed to the players, manager and coaches, management and ownership, we can learn something from the approach the Cubs took to communications, both internally and externally.

From an internal perspective, when the new management team came in, they vowed to install and instill the “Cubs Way” of doing things. Those of us who have followed the Cubs for many years were skeptical. We’d heard it all before managers and general managers ranging from the famous to the obscure.

But this team was serious. And they communicated the Cubs Way and what it meant throughout the organization in handbooks and PowerPoints, from the minors to the majors, from the scouts to the ticket offices. They celebrated success and talked about ways to improve. And all of this brought the team closer together in a way that perhaps helped them respond to losing the lead with four outs to go in Game 7 of the World Series.

As we do internal communications, we can all learn the lesson of the Cubs, creating our message and communicating it consistently, clearly and often throughout the organization.

Externally, the Cubs were very transparent with their fans and other key audiences about their plans and the short-term pain they would endure. Theo Epstein joined the Cubs in October 2011 after serving as general manager of the Boston Red Sox, after ending their own curse by winning the World Series after an 86-year drought. Epstein and his team told the fans that they were going to build from within and not sign expensive free agents and that the Cubs might not be successful for a few years. But that this approach would lead to long-term and sustained success.

And he was certainly right. From 2010-2013, the Cubs finished last in their division, including an astounding 36 games under .500 in 2012. At the same time, this poor performance enabled them to get high draft picks and sign current stars Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber.

Epstein continued to reassure the fans and, while attendance fell, it might have fallen further had he not been forthright about the plan and owner Tom Ricketts not continually supported him. The roster turned over to the point that only two players remain from that woeful 2012 team.

I similarly experienced the benefits of communicating about long-term strategy when the short-term results aren’t so good. I was general counsel and chief communications officer of a family controlled but publicly traded personal care products company that was competing against the giants of Procter & Gamble and Unilever. Our goal was to regularly introduce innovative new products and build market share at the expense of short-term shareholder return.

Like Epstein, since we had some success, the Street believed us and was willing to accept some short term losses and even a product failure, because the successes were stunning. We eventually built our business to the point where we were selling more hair care products than anyone in the world and the business was sold to Unilever at a price that made everyone happy.

Obviously, whether the Cubs or in business, this kind of long-term thinking must be backed by visionary thinking. But when it is, who knows what can happen.

Go Cubs Go!

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Pete Wentz

Pete Wentz, executive director of APCO’s Chicago office, provides clients with expertise in corporate reputation, crisis, financial and litigation communication and strategic planning. He also has extensive experience in higher education. Read More