“If your organization was a sports team, where would you be in the standings?”
This is a thought provoking question for two reasons. First, it does cause you to put yourself in a ranking in relation to your competition. Second, it allows you to ask yourself the next critical question: “is where you are good enough?”
It is perfectly acceptable if you make the conscious choice to be where you are. In sport, not all teams are competing for the championship. Some are happy to be in the league, have supporters, and run a business. Other teams want to be competing for the top regularly; they are expecting a championship and nothing else is acceptable.
If you answer that it is not acceptable and doing nothing is not an option, there are lessons that the business of sport could teach you. Before I share these lessons, I would like to provide an observation.
“In all my years of following professional sport I have not observed a team make a significant move in the standing without changing personnel.”
For those of you in non-sport organizations I understand this is an emotional topic. You may agree that likely it is not possible for your organization either and at the same time are reluctant to have the difficult conversations and make the difficult people decisions to move up in the standings. I feel that in your organization as sport those discussions can take place and decisions made while still being very respectful of the people involved.
Now let me share with you the lessons that I believe can be learned from sport. First is to create a culture of accountability at all levels and secondly it is all about the talent.
Imagine a team you may follow and how they changed their fate. A simple team model would consist of the owner, executive, management, coaches and players. When the owner decides that they want to move up, it is not only about the players: the accountability is at all levels. If the talent is not there to compete then some players may be changed and added. It is more common that an analysis is done of the complete organization. Do they have the executive to take the goals and develop a strategy to execute? Have they built the organization to deliver? At the management level, have they set the structure and hired the right people to identify, recruit, select and develop the players needed to achieve? When we look at the coaches, are they the right ones to get the best from the players and give them the opportunity to succeed?
It has been my experience that organizations tend to focus too much at the player level without the analysis. Just like sport, the visible deficiencies become apparent on the frontline.
Could you imagine a sports team saying, a player was just injured or is retiring soon we need to look for a replacement? In the business of sport, talent is in focus and the topic of discussion all the time. They are always looking for the talent that can make them better, while developing the talent they currently have. They look throughout their own organization as well as competitors and even non-sport related organizations for the best talent. It is also important to note that this search is everyone’s responsibility from owner to players. I have observed as well that when it comes to making the decision on changing or adding talent, ownership and executive are fully involved.
Are you ready to move up in the standings, build accountability, take an active role in the process and prepared to make the necessary decisions?
Author Contact Information:
John Lobraico, Managing Principal