What makes an NFL football dynasty?
In other words, what makes a team a perennial Superbowl champion?
In the last few days, I’ve been thinking about this & drawing a lot of parallels to my business.
One of the fundamental keys, I’ve realized, is simply architecting the right team.
In his book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins discusses the commonalities shared by all “great companies” (a great company being one that produced cumulative stock returns of at least 3x the general market over a 15-year period… there were only 11 U.S. companies that met this strict criteria between 1965-1995.)
One of the foundational commonalities between these 11 companies was this:
Before ever deciding which direction to take their “bus,” the great companies focused on (1) getting the right people ON the bus, (2) getting the wrong people OFF the bus, and (3) getting the right people in the right seats.
So many companies (and teams) do this backwards.
They’re so focused on heading for the championship that they don’t give enough attention to getting the right people on the bus in the first place.
I’ve been there.
Faced with strict development deadlines, it’s been easy for me to simply hire the first seemingly qualified candidate that comes along.
That’s how you build a mediocre team. Or maybe a playoff contender.
But not a Superbowl champion.
I used the football analogy to define the current development team within my business. Right now I have:
- The Franchise Player.
This guy is my Peyton Manning… consistently achieving things you didn’t even know were possible and rarely making a mistake. I’d pay him any amount of money to play a 15-year career and retire with my team.
- The Rookie Wide Receiver.
Fast and flashy, but often drops passes and fumbles the ball. I often wonder whether I overpay him, but the long-term prospect is good so we’ll continue to develop his game.
- The Reliable Punter.
The ultimate role player who consistently delivers punts inside the 10 yard line. Has a specialized skill, does it well, and is paid accordingly.
- The Average Strong Safety.
Makes a few tackles a game, but a lot of times you forget he’s on the field. This guy works slowly & steadily, disappears on occasion, but generally does what he’s ask him to do.
So I ask myself – is this the team that’s going to bring home a Superbowl championship?
The answer, admittedly, is “probably not.” This certainly isn’t the Patriots of the past 8 years. But it is a work in progress.
Remember, the Patriots were one of the most dismal teams in football for most of the 1990s.
The process of architecting their dynasty (getting the right people ON the bus, the wrong people OFF the bus, and the right people in the right seats) was a long, arduous process.
The turning point was when they got the right decision makers in the front office. At executive level, I’m confident I have the right decision makers in place right now. And that’s the most important thing.
Just remember… the right systems, the right technology, and the loftiest goals will never work without the right people.
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself today:
- Do you have the right people on the bus?
Do you have people who are naturally aligned with your vision and consistently delivering beyond your expectations?
- Do you have anyone who needs kicked off the bus?
Do you have any employees who need to be tightly managed? If so, you’re doing that person a disservice by ultimately preventing him/her from finding a better environment where he/she will flourish. It’s also unfair to all the right people to keep the wrong people around.
- Do you have the right people in the right seats?
Do you have your best people working on your biggest opportunities, utilizing their strengths & passions to their fullest? This is only way to produce consistently high ROI from your employees.
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, it’s time to take action. Now. You’re team will be perpetually mediocre until you do.
I’m actually in search of a new employee this week, a star running back to complement the air attack of my franchise quarterback.
It’s always a long, careful selection process –- scouting resumes, watching game tape, interviewing -– and even after going through this process & making a hiring decision, sometimes on-the-field performance isn’t what I expected.
But that’s okay. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither were the 2004 Patriots.
Your “championship” (whatever it is you’re ultimately working toward) may be a long way off, but now’s the time to lock in the key players that you’re going to build around.
The entrepreneurs who get this foundational step right have FAR greater potential to create dynasties that endure beyond their lifetime.