When I was in school a long, long time ago, I went on a field trip to the CSO. Like all the other kids, I was moaning and groaning about having to listen to “old people’s music” I remember getting into my seat and consoling myself that at least this is better than sitting in language arts.
And then the music started. It was Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
I had never heard anything quite like it. It was such a complete work of music from beginning to end. I quickly became enraptured and soon forgot the people around me. There was only music. There was the initial power and excitement of the allegro to get things started. Soon after the patterns and recurring themes that define the rest of the symphony begin to emerge and become clear. The pace quickens, then slows and by the time the climactic 4th and final movement came around the hair on my arms were standing on end. And, of course, it all ends with the triumphant choral, “Ode to Joy”.
An hour had gone by and I hadn’t even felt it. The payoff was worth it. No other musical experience has had such a long term impact on me. By comparison, I couldn’t even tell you what the #1 song on the pop charts was that day.
It occurred to me today that building a strong organization is very much like a symphony. It takes time. There are times when excitement builds and times when things slow down. But the payoff is long term and well worth it. In an age when pop songs are created in an instant and crafted to sell from day one — only to become stale, forgotten and replaced almost as quickly — the symphony seems forbidding in terms of both length and complexity. Has the immediacy of pop culture replaced the timeless art of the symphony?
Not for me. And thankfully, the Cubs new front office believes in building an organization that stands the test of time — a plan for sustainable success. So if you will indulge me in a rather unique and nerdy analogy, I present to you The Epstein Symphony, played to the music of Beethoven’s 9th, of course…
Allegro Ma Non Troppo
Epstein is introduced and there is excitement in the air. He presents his plan assertively and with great clarity. But not so fast — this is going to be neither quick nor easy. If you are listening closely, everything you need to understand the next 3 movements of the rebuilding process is here.
The Cubs come out aggressively and add young talent at a frenetic pace. Epstein and his crew quickly build one of the top two farm systems in the game and fans are very excited about what is to come in the future. Anticipation swells to new levels.
Adagio Molto e Cantabile
This is the sad song of the 2013/2014 offseason. All the excitement of the first two movements gives way to somber notes. What happened? Where did the energy and excitement go? No major additions and the rooftops are suing. This isn’t what we were expecting as we head into the 3rd year. Things are slowing down just when it seemed like this organization was on the rise.
Presto! Allegro Energico
We are once again reminded of earlier themes — the promise and excitement we had when Epstein was first introduced. Things slowly start to come together. It becomes apparent at first in glimpses, a hint of what’s to come, but the pace picks up, and suddenly the team is winning and Wrigley is alive and bursting with energy and anticipation.
Ode to Joy
A World Series ring. What else? The cathartic culmination of a long and challenging process. No one can contain themselves any longer. People are singing in the streets with unbridled happiness.
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