Lessons from the field


Business is like football. For that matter, business is like any sport. You draw up a plan, field a team, and play the best game you can. You have an owner, you’ve got coaches, you have fans, you have days off, and you have a playbook for the season. You’ve got an offensive strategy and a defensive one. You’ve got people betting on you. You compete against other teams and you are always working to keep your fans engaged and happy. And, you’ve got to make money by winning.

I’m not a fanatic about drawing comparisons between sports and business, but I do enjoy stacking them side-by-side occasionally. There’s a lot to be learned off the field from the similarities with the game on the field. One of my favorite sayings is, “we need more offense.” Offense is the points; it’s the score, what’s on the board at the end of the game. It’s who wins. And, in business, it’s often one of the hardest parts. It’s easier to be defensive, benchmarking against competitors and working a safe strategy as you evaluate and mitigate your risks. While defense might win football games, offense in business gets you paid. Innovation, relentless pursuit of goals, more sales, and great customer service to secure renewal business is all a part of the offense. It’s the points on the board.

Someone in my office got a phone call and they answered it with an email. The person was a bit snippy in their response to the email. You need more offense, if someone calls you call them back, don’t email. I have five great relationships that like to send me business. I call them once a week to check in, because I need more offense. My friend has a customer that is high maintenance. She feels like this relationship is draining. She needs more offense, get face-to-face once a week and they’ll feel like they are your only relationship.

With economic pressures, it’s easy to become too defensive. You’ve got to have a defensive strategy, but offense scores the points and you have to have points to win. And it’s easy to create offense without being offensive; it’s a state of mind.