Corporate learnings from sports

I am an active follower of 4 sports-cricket, lawn tennis, football & Formula1. After watching many matches of these sports over many years, I realised that they can deliver much more than just entertainment. There are a number of lessons that corporate world can learn from them.

1. Right men @ right place @ right time. In cricket a dynamic captain is not sufficient to win matches. Right fielders need to be @ right positions @ right time during the match. The small savings in runs are extremely crucial in the shorter formats. Similarly, the management needs to understand the capabilities of its employees & ensure that they are doing the job which is the most suitable to their “style of play”

2. Surprise the competitor/ anticipate his moves : Wrong footing the opponent in tennis or introducing an unexpected bowler can pay rich dividends. A firm will succeed only if the competitor is not able to guess what its next move will be. On the other hand it is necessary to anticipate others’ moves. Take the example of a goalkeeper trying to save a penalty kick. What should he do to increase his slim chances of saving the goal. One small hint. Well known players are likely to follow the more conventional route of kicking near the corner while lesser known players in an attempt to show off & gain popularity are likely to do something different. Cant this be used to analyse the competitor firm’s moves based on its reputation?
Sometimes it is suggested that goalie should not get overwhelmed by the situation. Research suggests that if he stays right at the centre during the penalty kick , his chances of saving the goal are increased by around 10-15%. Similarly any organisation should not panic by any change in the biz environment & do one thing at a time in a systematic manner..

3. Importance of being #1: I have already talked in my 6th blog post about the importance of the numero uno position. Formula 1 confirms it. Cars in the front row have a open path in front of them , to zoom ahead & I have rarely seen them being overtaken by subsequent cars. Many firms are contented with 2nd -3rd position. But attaining #1 position has its own merits & it should be on agenda of all the top players of the industry.

4. Give due credit to unsung heroes: The winner takes it all..Everyone remembers the goal kick & its scorer but the superb pass prior to that hit by another player remain the unsung hero. Similarly in business due credit needs to be given to all members of the successful project/venture

Similar to an organisation , football has 3 levels—front end ( strikers), middle level( midfielder) & back end( defenders & the goalie). A striker gets all accolades on scoring but is spared on missing one. On the other hand it is a part of defenders & goalie’s duty to save goals but a  sin to let one pass through. Midfielders are in between the two no high praise or criticism. This has striking similarity with the 3 levels in the organisation. Efforts need to be made to give due credit to everyone’s efforts.

5. Improve bottom margins and not just top margins

Sales can be viewed as runs scored…Teams focus more on scoring as much runs as possible…Reducing costs/ improving bottom margins i.e saving runs through good bowling and good fielding is equally important , if not more

In short, one needs to think of business & all its events  from a game point of view.If one tries to determine what decisions he would have taken had this been a match it would possibly lead to better decision making…..

Out of 8 blog posts this has been the 6th where I have talked about corporate world…Cant help it. With approximately quarter of our total time of the week being spent in our offices, suggestions towards some areas of improvement in the organisation automatically catch my attention.

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