Sport vs. Business

The Thinker and the Doer

That person must be hidden somewhere!

“Who?”, you may ask.

The great karate master, the one depicted in traditional, often childish, martial arts movies (long bearded, old & sage, introspect and humble, you know the kind). Well, he may also represent kung-fu, or any oriental style. The guy studying in detail every punch, every step, every kick. The methodist, the analyst, the engineer of fighting. The source of piles of books on techniques, hitting angles, and invariably mastering some esoteric energies able to destroy any enemy, even in Jedi style, from a considerable distance.

Definitely, that person might exist somewhere. Unpolite and futile to think of his/her age, as this would be too earthly a question.

Before the great master decides to get into the public eye, if ever, we will continue to watch lots of disciples, promoters of the ancient misteries. We are not often clear if they really got their mystical training right, but, as they come from some legendary monasteries, or hidden schools in I-don’t-know-which-remote-villages covered in mist, among rice crops, we expect they might carry some genuine substance. We see them and almost get in the ecco-homo mood, without its Christianity connections, of course.

There was a high level of curiosity on the supremacy of fighting styles. I guess people have been wondering about these topics from ancient times (think of gladiator fights, for instance), but lately we face more and more instances of direct confrontation. The current development in worldwide communication & travel created the environment for these much expected clashes. Money started to be circulated in various promotions, raising the temptation even among most isolated communities. We can watch shows performed by monks from kung-fu monasteries, reminscences of ninja warriors (hoping there are not too many americans hidden under those masks!), even Tai-Chi masters remembering the world that their style is, basically, a martial art. These shows are often worth the money, we all have probably seen some spectacular events (seek online, if you haven’t yet).

So, where is the business take-away, in this story?

It may be about the money and the motivational power of the coin. It may be about the power of technology and its capacity to create global effects, to blend cultures and increase competition. But I want to touch other aspects…

a) We have a winner

Once fighters from different styles started to compete, beyond impressive shows, we also started to have…winners. That’s a great advantage of sports, as in most of them, we have clear winners at the end of the game. That may not be as obvious in business, or in many other professional realms. There are hierarchies and rankings of companies, like per turnover, for instance, but that is not always the only metric that matters. We may take into account so many other dimensions, like profitability, market value, brand value, recommendation scores, perceived quality, etc. It is likely difficult to be clear on who is the best accountant, dentist, programmer or designer. Most often, it is not always clear who is on top, who is the best, a feature that sports enjoy.

b) We can have a winner profile

In the above exemples, where martial arts started to actually compete under various regulations, in most instances, it was not the “karate” master winning the game. Experts consider these category of styles too rigid, too “theoretical”. More fluid styles like boxing, muay thai, jiu-jistu (actually, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, aka BJJ) or wrestling, got the crowns. There was a clear, visible difference between thinking about the fight, decomposing it very analytically in fragmented moves and the reality check of the actual fight. In these face-to-face encounters, most of the winners came from the fuild people.

It is a victory of those who do things against those who think how to do things. Visible in sports, quite difficult to prove in business…