It’s bowl season when business takes a backseat to the couch. Every night teams you rarely follow, and hopefully one you are passionate about occupy your main focus. As I watched two teams I cannot remember (seriously), I started thinking about what lessons for business exist in this month-long vacation. Like Neil Young, Continuous Learning never sleeps.
Here’s a few random thoughts I have seen already that apply to my business.
1) Fear the early lead. One of those teams I can’t remember jumped out to a 14 point lead in the first 10 minutes of the game only to lose. You see it in business too when company’s enjoy early success. Coaches preach 60 minutes and staying aggressive. Coasting is natural and remember when you start coasting only one direction is available, down. Follow the Dos Equis XX rule and “Stay Hungry.”
2) When you lose the lead, refocus on what got you the lead. The best games have multiple lead changes. The SEC Championship between Alabama and Georgia had six lead changes and if 10 seconds were added, there probably would have been seven. Both teams doubled down on their strengths, trusting what got them to the championship. Businesses will get leap-frogged especially in this fast changing, digitally flat, and global marketplace. Rather than reacting to the competition by copying, businesses that refocus on their strengths tend to rebound and retake market share.
3) When you have a big event coming, go back to the basics before focusing on the event. Nick Saban has a pretty good track record going. When asked how he prepares for the BCS Championship game with its 40+ days of preparation, he offered some really good insights. First, he views it as a one game season. Second, he allocates the majority of his preparation on the same basics he stresses in pre-season: blocking, tackling, and communications. He rebuilds his strengths from the ground up and only in the last 10 days does he focus on his opponent. If your business did this before your next big product launch, do you think you might execute even better?
4) Make sure your stars can make plays. Every team has superior performers. All too often you watch a bowl and wonder why the team doesn’t try to get the ball in the hands of these players or put the star defensive player in a position to make a play. In the name of balance company’s cut territories and spread opportunity at the expense of the superstar. Let the 80/20 rule guide you and make sure your top 20% always feel appreciated and challenged.