Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rams 19 Redskins 17

So, my concerns were well founded. The Redskins overlooked the Rams and lost one they shouldn’t have. Portis even said so after the game. You can blame it on turnovers, bad special teams play or the inability to mount one last defensive stand, but it really came down to one play. If Pete Kendall lets that ball drop to the ground, the Redskins win, despite all of their bad play. That was a 10 point swing at minimum, maybe more.

Interestingly, after the game, Clinton Portis talked a lot about learning to win when you’re supposed to, that the Redskins play better as underdogs. Hopefully, the Redskins learn from this loss and are more prepared for their next opponent. With the Browns looking resurgent, the schedule doesn’t look as clear as it did a week ago. The Redskins will need every ounce of focus they can muster this week. It’s probably a good thing the Browns pounded the Giants.

For those of you who know me, I am very interested in team dynamics and in how teams mature or progress through stages until ultimately they are highly functioning. I am also interested in how organizational structure impacts leadership effectiveness. I find sports teams to be interesting case studies not only because I am a fan, but because the analogy is so often applied to business. I am forming a POV that this is not always the best analogy because sports teams have shared outcomes, defined rules by which they play and shared tasks that they perform (plays) whereas most business "teams" do not. There is also this idea of significant negative outcomes in sports. If your team mate fails to peform their duty, then there can be a serious injury to someone else or the entire system fails (you lose the game). While businesses on a whole my experience this, I don't believe individual teams experience this in business.

I believe a better metaphor may be that of a legislature. In my view, my team resembles this structure more closely. We represent different constituencies, so we don't have shared outcomes; we compete for resources rather than collectively leverage them; our leadership group is too large to effectively operate as a team, but smaller committees can get a lot done; and we are part of one organization (marketing) that has a shared interest in stewarding resources for the common good, i.e., the performance of our company. I am still building out the metaphor, but I think there are enough similarities upon which an operating model can be built. Please let me know what you think.

Finally, one last note on the Redskins. I found a Twitter stream called "Redskins Insider" that provides regular team updates as well as in-game updates. I am hooked. I feel like I’m part of the team and “in the know” in a way that I haven’t felt before (despite being a fan for 30+ years). It's particularly compelling being an out-of-market fan that can't consume the in-market sports media. It’s a very transparent view into a business where timely and relevant information is in high demand by consumers. In other words, it satisfies a need for me that cannot otherwise be fulfilled. Today I learned about running back tryouts, the punter situation and much more. I think it's a great way for sports teams to connect with their customers and I recommend it for any rabid fan (and every sports owner).

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