The NFL season starts this week so last week was cutdown day, where rosters are reduced from 80 to 53. Dreams are realized or shattered for hundreds of players.
I read an interview with an NFL coach and he made three points that have good business lessons in them.
- When picking (fringe) players they want not only those who are good at their position but also can contribute on special teams. Business lesson: this is called cross training and it can be really important in small business. One of clients says when the product line expert is out the rest of the team can immediately handle 90% of customer questions and for the questions they can’t answer they confer with the team and can get the answer in an hour or two.
- There is conflict between the general manager and the coach. The coach wants the best players for this season. The GM wants a combination of “help now” players and “developmental” players. He doesn’t want to have an aging team with no replacements in a year or two. This is like when I and buyers cringe when a business seller says four of the five management team members have been there 30-35 years. It’s great now but will all that talent leave at about the same time?
- The final thing is how good does the player fit in the locker room? Culture is important for any team, sports or business. Interestingly, a week or so before I read this interview the Wall Street Journal had an article about the return to work. It said the best thing would be if the jerks and annoying people didn’t return.
Too often owners don’t pay as much attention to culture as they should and the buyer is seen as a breath of fresh air.
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Warren Buffett
“It’s hard to find someone who’s successful and dislikes what they do. Except if they’re a lawyer” Malcolm Gladwell