Former planet Pluto is now categorized into a group called the “Trans-Neptunian Objects” – basically anything past Neptune, the last planet in our solar system. Some bloke realized that 6 of these Trans-Neptunian Objects had orbits that were out of whack. The now strongly supported hypothesis for this elliptical abnormality constitutes the existence of a massive ninth planet lurking on the fringe of our solar system, “Planet Nine.” The planet isn’t visible yet, but there’s enough evidence to convince the scientific community that it’s probably/most likely floating out there. That bloke might win a Nobel Prize.
Hadn’t we heard enough barking from pundits, player testimonials, and seen enough champagne-soaked celebrations to know that team chemistry lurked somewhere inside most clubhouses? Over the last few years, we’ve observed the orbits of the Royals, the Patriots, the Giants, and the Warriors and could project with some confidence how often their ellipses would pass by the playoffs, only to feel much less confident in the end. Despite the confidence in our projections, we’re still star-struck every time an outlier is propelled to the top. But time and again, interest in team chemistry spikes at the end of the professional season – when championship teams hoist their trophies and are asked what it takes, while everyone else wonders what they’re doing wrong. Now as we glimpse through our telescope, we wonder if anyone else is looking in the same direction.
There were planetary influences that were at play – the words and wishes of team leaders that would sway a planet’s orbit like a careening meteor. There were countless examples from the literature of teams high in “cohesion,” backed by years of research, spanning organizational, military, and sports contexts 1. There were diagrams and measures and surveys that could chart the course for any team aspiring for chemical balance. There were observations from astronauts direct from the planets themselves . There was evidence of this team chemistry planet; there was a hypothesis brewing.
Since our own Trans-Neptunian declaration, we’ve spoken with a handful of teams, preaching the good word of Planet Nine, and even the possible existence of other mysterious planets. Are we so entrenched with the same methodology that we’re afraid to explore the unknown? Ironically, the best method for discovery will be to experiment within the confines of a team’s own planetary atmosphere – from inside their own clubhouses. The numerical representation of team chemistry will begin within individual organizations. Keep in mind that the measurement and manipulation of team chemistry is not only possible, but it has existed for quite some time. Somewhere, Albert Carron is weeping.
We believe that Planet Nine exists because we have strong theoretical evidence from experts that it more than likely does exist, and those that invest the energy will be the first to explore it. Yes, team chemistry is opaque, but the hope is that it doesn’t orbit front offices at the end of the season, only to evaporate into the off-season atmosphere. The first step is merely to show interest, to explore the potential that it could bring to sports team and organizations. You don’t have to launch expensive explorations or invest a bounty of resources; you just need to open your eyes. There’s a whole universe of unexplored psychological regions that have inextricably been bypassed by team satellites: team chemistry, leadership, motivation, grit, flow, personalities, the list goes on. There is much more to this analytical universe than regressions, Markov chains, and machine learning. If you want to be first to a new area, you have to explore.
1 Carron, A.V., Colman, M.M., Wheeler, J. and Stevens, D. (2002). Cohesion and performance in sport: a meta-analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 24, 168-188.↩