The 2012 Major League Baseball season officially begins today, with the first of a two-game series between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. For the rest of the teams, it is still Spring Training.

It’s easy to think of Spring Training as ‘getting ready,’ as if ‘ready’ is over when Spring Training ends. Of course it doesn’t work that way. Managers use time between mid-February and early April to nail down rosters spots, assess players’ skills and see who works well together. But nothing stays locked. The surprises start on Opening Day. That’s when the improvising begins.

Without pushing the analogy too far, there is a parallel between Spring Training and communication planning. During the ‘getting ready’ phase we clarify the message, tweak the language and settle on the right balance of context and information. But there are always surprises: One issue raises questions we didn’t anticipate. Another causes unexpected concern.

That’s why communication planning needs to be dynamic. As important as it is to design the right message up front, it’s just as critical to stay in touch with how that message is being heard – to know what’s working and what needs to be improved. 

OK, the Spring Training analogy may not be the strongest, but baseball is on my mind. Here’s to a great season. May your team make it to the end of October – especially if your team is the Cincinnati Reds or Detroit Tigers. And take a moment to enjoy this blast from the past – a TV spot I wrote and directed at the Reds Spring Training camp in 1999. Recognize any of the players?