Managements favorite metaphor, trashed.

If I hear the sporting team metaphor once more this week, I think I will spew, although I have often used it myself over the years.
I’ve been contributing to a sales conference this week, listening to some intelligent, well thought out stuff from some surprising corners of the business, some crap from a few who should know better, and endless sporting analogies.
Lets examine the sport team metaphor realistically, looking for the shortcomings that are rarely mentioned:
• Sporting teams have a set number of players, and your ability to maintain a “bench” is limited. In contact sports, there is usually a few all-rounders who can be used as substitutes, but in most, what you start with is all you have. What would happen in a business if you could not adjust capabilities and numbers on the fly to respond to unforeseen circumstances?
• Sporting teams conduct the contest within a well known and understood set of rules by which each side complies. Try telling your competition to play be a set of rules agreed beforehand.
• A sporting contest takes place at a set time, in a set place, and has a set duration, and if you do not turn up, you lose. Fundamental to the commercial contest is the “faking” of the opposition to get them to expend resources doing something that can deliver them no benefit, and if you can do that and not even have to turn up, so much the better.
• Sporting teams know who their opponent will be next week, and the week after, have a pretty good idea of their capabilities, so therefore can train specifically to address the challenges as they arise in a predictable manner. Not so in commercial life, and just because you beat a competitor last week, does not mean they will not come back at you in an unexpected way tomorrow, not even waiting for Saturday! Sneaks.
The list goes on, but the point is that metaphors are great, they illustrate a point, but they do not provide a template, just a lesson.

About strategyaudit

StrategyAudit is a boutique strategy and marketing consultancy concentrating on the challenges of the medium sized manufacturing businesses that make up the backbone of our economy. The particular focus is on their strategic and marketing development. as well as the business and operational efficiency improvements necessary for day to day commercial survival. We not only give advice, we go down "into the weeds" to ensure and enable implementation.
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