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Business lessons from a sports blog
Delaney Turner 270002T14M firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  strategy cognos spss ibmsoftware
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Two lessons in business strategy from Bruce Dowbiggin's Ususal Suspects blog. Bruce's blog is actually about sports and his post yesterday referred to the NHL playoff series between the San Jose Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche. But it applies equally well to whatever competitive endeavor you find yourself trying to win. Just think of the rink as your market and you should be fine.
As it stands now, the Sharks trail the upstart Avalance 2 games to 1 in the best-of-seven series. This to many people will come as a surprise. Granted, Sunday night's Avalanche win was an overtime fluke, the product of fatigue and stress as much as talent and will. Nevertheless, the team that finished 18 points behind the Sharks and wasn't even expected to be in the post-season now has home-ice advantage over a team that back in October was the odds-on favorite to hoist Lord Stanley's mug. How can this be?
Enter this observation from Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla:
"No matter the outcome of this [Colorado-San Jose] NHL playoff series," Kiszla writes, "the sport has passed by San Jose, which is desperately, futilely trying to win a championship with your father's brand of hockey. The future of this game is the way Colorado plays it. The Avs move with the speed of the Internet. Old San Jose is rumbling toward extinction like a gas-guzzling, rusting 1968 Buick."
A painful assessment, but an honest one, too. The Sharks were the odds-on favorites because they'd been so close before, they finished first again in their conference and after so many near-misses had acquired the missing pieces of the puzzle (among them former Ottawa Senator Dany Heatley). Plus, their entire top line had just won Olympic gold in Vancouver. Now, though, there's a sense that this year they could exit the playoffs even earlier than previous years; that their window of opportunity is now closing more quickly than they can skate through it.
The business lessons? First, previous performance is no guarantee of future results; margins are thinner than ever now, whether in your supply chain or the "Parity Party" that is the new NHL. Second, just because you're on the same ice as your opponents doesn't mean you're both playing the same game. Colorado isn't beating San Jose at their own game - they've changed the game entirely and they're winning it their way. As Kiszla observes, the Sharks are simply too slow to keep up.
I'll end with a few questions: are you moving quickly enough in your own endeavors? How do you know? Is your strategy in-tune with your market realities? And when your market does change, will you have the confidence and the courage to change with it?
If you're not sure, IBM has the resources to help: