You Spell Chemistry W-I-N!


October 29, 2010

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the St. Louis 9th District Business Association luncheon honoring the police officers of the district.  It was a moving event for several reasons.  First, it was a way to see employees recognized for their efforts and that is always good in my book.  Second, it highlighted twelve stories of extreme bravery and service to the community by officers who had been in very dangerous situations and had successful results.  And last, it recognized an officer who had been killed in the line of duty last spring.  One special highlight of the luncheon was the keynote by Ozzie Smith.

Ozzie is one of the most loved St. Louis Cardinal baseball players of all time.  After starting his career with the Padres, Ozzie came to St. Louis in 1982 and helped the Cardinals win the World Series.  He’s won numerous awards including the Golden Glove Award, Silver Slugger, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.  Having him share his feelings about living in St. Louis and his appreciation for the police officers was amazing.  The fun part was that he also took questions from the audience.  Several of the questions revolved around his thoughts of various teammates through the years and how chemistry affected them.  Ozzie responded:

“You spell chemistry W-I-N.”

This brings up an interesting question for me.  While I agree that good chemistry can certainly be critical in a team’s success, can’t you also have WINS without chemistry?  And, what about all the teams, both in sports and at work who may have great chemistry but have other barriers to their success?

What do you think?  Weigh in with your comments….


  • Winning without chemistry is basically just good luck. The team, while the members don’t have to like each other MUST be able to work together and anticipate opportunities in order to win.

    Chemistry is one part of the puzzle, but chemistry without skills or leadership is useless. All three must be there; however, skills and leadership without chemistry will certainly result in frustration.

    Finding and eliminating the offending ingredient in an otherwise hamonious group will result in better chemistry. Sometimes it’s a player who is self-gratifying, sometimes it’s a coach who doesn’t command respect from their players, and sometimes it’s a player who is burnt out. Those whom I have mentioned will certainly taint the mix, and they MUST be erradicated.

    So I say that chemistry is a MUST for winning.

  • I obviously did not hear the speech – but my take it that Winning sort of trumps softer and more nebulous issues like ‘chemistry’, at least in sports. There is an old axiom in sports that ‘winning cures everything’ and that many manager/owners/teammates are willing to put up with a lot of garbage when the team is winning. So is chemistry a ‘must’ for winning, probably not, at least not in sports anyway. But it is likely easier to win when the team is tight, people are getting along, and there is some level of camaraderie.

    Super post and great question to consider.

  • Chemistry is not necessary for winning on the short term, but I think it is critical for wins for a sustained period. Using baseball as the example there are many teams that are put together for the one big win or at least a chance at the World Series, then, as the Florida Marlins did, they break apart because the chemistry is not there.

    Chemistry is important if you want to sustain the team and sustain the wins. Chemistry may produce wins and perhaps wins will produce chemistry. Much of that will depend on Leadership.

  • Great questions.

    As an HR pro and a youth hockey coach, it’s become more clear to me that “team” chemistry often supercedes a “group” of talented individuals. The ability to work together, leverage each other’s strengths, and not take criticism personally usually far exceeds the fragile egos of “superstars.”

  • You can have a certain kind of win without chemistry. It’s the statistic that you can read in the annual report or the record books. But the win with chemistry goes beyond the reported win and becomes legend. Jim Collins’ books like “Good to Great” are stories of leadership and chemistry, not just winning.
    I think part of our job as HR pros is to manage the chemistry. Bring the right components together in the right environment, and let the chain reaction deliver the result.

  • I’ve been on successful teams were we have had chemistry and I have been on teams with little chemistry–both big wins. In the end, having the chemistry makes it a whole lot more fun to win.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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