College Football and Business - Lessons That Can Be Learned

I love watching college football. I am writing this at almost midnight while watching a West coast game whose teams I don't really know and have no deep interest in the final outcome. I just love watching the momentum shifts, the adjustments that are made, and the coaches that talk about "their" kids on the field. I also think it is the balance between players that have been coached for years and have excellent skills and that 99% of them are doing it for the love of the game. It could also be the exuberant student sections that run onto the field after their team beats a higher ranked team. Now why I am writing about this, except to just continue to expound about how great college football is? 

Well, I cannot help but think about how a great football team and it's fans compare to great companies and their "fans" or customers. To me there are a couple important lessons that can be learned from college football and applied quite effectively to business. The first is the coaching and training and practice that happens continuously in the pursuit of excellence. The second is how raving fans are created by exceeding their expectations. 

Now I can tell you that when I am helping an organization implement new software, I always...yes, always emphasize the importance of training and education for every user. My clients that follow this advice typically have a much higher level of user adoption than those that think they can skimp on training and education. Now what about your organization? It doesn't need to be only about new technology, ask yourself honestly about the effort that your company takes regarding coaching, training and educating employees. Now I get it, you don't just play a game on Saturdays, so that the rest of the week can be singularly focused on coaching and training like a college football team. But there is definitely time during the week that can be invested in your people. Put an ongoing education plan together and you will see the results of your efforts in more satisfied employees, improved decision making and increased efficiencies. 

You may have heard the story about the CFO who went to the CEO to explain why a portion of their budget (training and education) should be cut. He explained his rational through his fear of employees that get smarter and smarter will leave for better opportunities, so why should they invest all this money in them just to see them leave. The CEO responded by saying, "what if we stop training and educating them and they STAY!" 

So what about the creation of "raving fans" for your business. There is almost no organization that is not facing the possibility that their product or service is being considered more and more a commodity. So exceeding people's expectations can be the only way to keep them loyal to your company. Think about the cell phone industry. It is hard to say that most phones today do just about the same things as every other phone. So how do you explain the phenomenon of the tents and huge lines outside just about every Apple store prior to the release of their latest phone. They have raving fans. They have earned them by exceeding their expectations.  

What are you doing to exceed your customers' expectations?  Is your team creating raving fans like the Alabama Crimson Tide? Are you recruiting the best possible people that you can? Are you coaching them to be extraordinary in everything that they do? Are your competitors shaking their heads in disbelief of what you "bring" every day. I suggest that you start and end with your people. They can influence your results in ways that you cannot even imagine if you give them the coaching, training and education that moves them to the next level. 

Good luck this season in winning your industry's championship. 

David PanitchComment