Readers take note! I wrote this yesterday afternoon, before the game. The Pens lost, but I still think the points below are valid...
We're into the second round of the NHL playoffs and the Pittsburgh Penguins have once again found another, higher gear. What makes them so good? And what, pray tell, does this have to do with business analytics
The answer to both questions lies in their franchise centreman Sidney Crosby. I've been watching a lot of the Pens' games lately and I've come to the conclusion that if you're an opposing player, he can beat you in three ways:
- He can beat you all by himself. In 82-game regular season, Crosby scored a league-leading 51 goals. He's a threat to score the minute he steps on the ice. It's been said about him that his greatest talent is his work ethic. With his desire to improve every aspect of his game there's no telling just how good he could be.
- He has an equally lethal partner: Crosby shares a line with Evgeni Malkin, last year's winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player throughout the playoffs. Big, fast and aglie, he's always ready to receive one of Crosby's seemingly blind passes and put the puck in the net, something he did 28 times in the regular season.
- He makes the rest of the team play better. I have no data on this point, but I'm convinced that Crosby is an equally effective leader in the dressing room as he is a player on the ice. Why? It's how the team responds to adversity. While many teams fold in the heat of the playoffs, the Pens improve the further they go. Whereas some teams wilt after a bad goal, the Pens more often than not respond with a more determined effort. In many cases it's the lesser-known players who step up. That's confidence.
If you're still with me at this point, here's the connection to business analytics; If you're staffing a new project or BICC, it's important to find people who demonstrate the same qualities in the meeting room that Crosby demonstrates on the ice. For example:
- Find the self-starters: Early-stage projects live or die with a single advocate or expert. These are people who believe in the project, who can convince others of the value, who know the software inside and out and aren't afraid to go it alone to deliver results.
- Find the right partner: Earlier this week I wrote about the importance of "Purple People" who can bridge the gap between IT and Business users. Every project needs at least one of these people who can articulate the goals and expected value to different audiences in different ways. Pair them with the self-starter and you have the core of a very successful implementation to build around.
- Develop your leadership skills: Obviously, this is a longer-term prospect. But increasingly, your project will succeed only to the extent that you can engage, motivate and inspire the people around you to set their goals high and exceed expectations.
Crosby's Pens still have a long way to go and the Habs are no pushovers. You, too, may have a long way to go before your project truly pays off. And with budgets tight no doubt you're facing some stiff competition for the resources you need. My advice? Take heart, keep the end goal in mind and draft very wisely.
Now if only he could grow a decent playoff beard.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)