We need to finish this by the end of the week! oh, gosh, on Friday we also have to start the X project as we have a tight deadline. And we received a new request, we have to send the proposal tomorrow. If we get it, we might have to start the project next week as well.
And so on, we keep things rolling. We get the money coming and business is good!
Or is it?
Are we on the right track? Are others doing something different, coming up with new ideas to solve same problems? Are new problems emerging? New expectations on the client/customer side?
These kind of questions and the appropriate answers are surely within the responsibilities of managers, innovation people, etc. However, there are lots of companies/organizations where these market shifts are not properly or timely taken into account. Or even if they are, managers could take that pragmatic position: “well, this is interesting but we don’t really have the time to think about it! we have to keep things rolling”
Are we indeed?
Let’s take a higher perspective. Isn’t something similar, to a certain extent, happening with our major global environmental issues? We receive lots of signals that we are on a wrong track, as humankind, but we just cannot stop the game just for a bit, to reevaluate what are we actually doing with this only planet we have so far…
We cannot afford a time-out! we are too busy, eager capitalists, with targets, goals, demanding shareholders, and we cannot stop. Not even to think. Not even when so many red lights are lit on the road ahead of us, desperately warning rather immediate dangers.
In sports, the flow of races, games or matches may also indicate a need to reevaluate. To change the strategy, make replacements, adjust tools, etc. Do sports people solve this similar sort of issues? Of course they do, most of the time.
First, we have breaks during the game. In boxing, fighters take regular breaks. They need them in order to recover physically. They know they could not fight continuously as they would soon collapse. As obvious as this seems, some people in business don’t really get this! On different layers in the hierarchy. Some bosses may consider that people should work their guts out, because that’s why they get paid. And if they collapse, they will be replaced by someone more “willing to learn”, more “committed to company’s goals”, etc.
In F1, it may start to rain. Or it could be quite hot. Or we simply have a tough race. Our pilot may lead the race. And we decide to call him to change tyres. How stupid could this be? to lose first position, so hardly fought for, just to make this change! Well, team leaders could know better. In the laps to go, our pilot will start to get seconds back. While those who overtook when we stopped, will continue to lose, as their “gear” gets more and more “obsolete”. The team investing timely in upgrades may take the crown eventually. These are decisions often found in sports.
In many sports, there are breaks. Are they used only for physical recovery? Not at all. It’s the time when coaches work on changes of strategy. They use this time to motivate teams, to iterate common goals.
In many sports, coaches could even ask for time-outs! the “manager” is actively involved and identifies needs to make changes. They practically stop the game to reconsider various aspects. Why is this sometimes hard to be understood in business?
And if you think the answer relates to money, I recommend you have a second look at the money involved in major sport competitions! It’s not about money per se, it’s about finding the right approaches to reach the goal. To win. Again, I think the fully-walled-MBA-diplomas business people might learn a bit from the person shouting from the bench, dressed in a training suit, to their lower educated people in sport arenas…
Take a break from time to time and rethink the game!
And take action if you see you are losing!