A Guide to Sports Analogies

The season is upon us.  Football is in the air. Baseball playoffs begin in a couple weeks.  This is the season of the terrible sports analogy.  Now here at roIQ we pride ourselves on being able to go deeper than the average worker.  Here is a list of some of our best ideas along with situations in which you could apply them.  Remember every analogy’s effectiveness is proportional to the passion with which you convey it.

You are running a button hook, we need a go route! – This phrase means that someone is thinking short, and you want them to think long.  Now what short and long are don’t really matter because analogies are only for those with beautiful minds and you should never have to explain yourself. Example: “Karen you are running a button hook, we need a go route!  Why invest in that market when we can try to buy an existing company, fire everyone, and do it ourselves ?”

A drop kick! – This is a drop kick.  It was popular in the 1930’s and is rarely seen since.  It is a high risk low reward move, but some people seem to think it is a great way to be innovative.  Be suspicious of anyone using this line.  Example: “I think avoiding email at all costs will show our customers we care.  A drop kick like that will definitely show our unique approach as a company.”

CTE – Essentially the modern version of beating a dead horse.  CTE is a reminded that everything has a limit to the number of times it can be battered around.  Sure to be a winner among the more meathead-ed of your coworkers.  Example: “Lets table the discussion of whether our group should be called the CSR group or the ECSR group before the onset of CTE.  If we keep debating adding an ‘excellent’ to our CSR team we will miss out on taco day in the cafeteria.”

Never make the first or last out at third. – This one is an old baseball aphorism.  Making those outs at third would imply you were taking an unnecessary risk.  Example: “Drake is right! You never make the first or last out at third. We should stop focusing on progress and let another group pick up our slack and drive in the run.”

I am hopeful that these will be of use to everyone who reads.  You can never have too many clubs in the bag when you swing for the fences.  Analogies are an arrow in the quiver of an MVP quarterback who finishes every meeting with a slam dunk.

Atlas Syndrome

Atlas Syndrome

This one is for the folks who routinely work during vacation and have trouble delegating work and feel ‘guilty’ taking off any time at all. It’s a pretty exciting syndrome to have, I like to call it Atlas Syndrome because at it’s root the patient believes themselves responsible for holding up the very heavens. Let’s be honest there are sets of circumstances where the sky would fall if certain roles weren’t accessible (e.g., the last technical expert who can work the core systems, CEO, CEO’s coffee courier, etc.,), but it’s hardly as prevalent and dramatic as our Atlases would have us believe.

While it is invigorating to think of oneself so highly, there is a profoundly distrusting flavor to the Atlas Syndrome that makes it wise to avoid. When an Atlas has gained leadership rank their team will feel the weight of their perceived greatness. Unfortunately, this tends to limit the development of confidence and critical thinking in their team, resulting in increased work for the Atlases and in a way fulfilling their exaggerated self-perception.

Of course, the Atlases don’t see the increasing workload as a sign of imbalance, rather a validation of their mandate to hold up the heavens. And how could they see it differently? Once you’ve become delightfully resigned to a perception of immense responsibility, it’s hard to gradually readjust to healthier patterns. Even when Atlases burn out (drop it all and go) they’ve still retained the belief they were holding everything in place.

Don’t be an Atlas, but if you’re afraid you might have started (everyone does to some degree) seek honest appraisal of more experienced colleagues and learn more about their work efforts and contributions. This will help to reduce some of the false inflation you attribute to your own accomplishments and involvement. If you are a leader, I would advise you to begin training yourself to delight in your team’s learning and creativity more than the romanticized version of perfect execution that is the way you would do things.

Ode to a Tyrant: Tactico-Strategicus

Ode to a Tyrant: Tactico-Strategicus

Kicking off our periodic series of odes to tyrants in business, Tactico-Strategicus boldly steps forth.

With reckless abandon, this tyrant charges the line of other’s thought swiping down his adversaries. He will only allow to survive those ideas that have a ‘long-termishness’ or ‘future-statiness’ to them. He does this in service of the higher cause; strategy.

Tactico-Strategicus is partially right. A focus on immediacy and practicality will forfeit  a rich potential of long term strategic opportunities. However, a shallow definition of strategic blinds the tyrant to how these concepts intersect. A well-considered short term move may be necessary for insight into strategy refinement. Likewise, many long and mid-term plans would benefit from a discussion about which are more or less probable.

What’s worst about Tactico-Strategicus is that he believes his purview will always be strategic, even when he has a tactical project at hand. In the heat of battle he strikes down ideas that accomplish his purpose. Tactico-Strategicus sees himself greater than the tactical nature of his project, even when his mission lies solely within that space.

Unfortunately, Tactico-Strategicus only ends up selecting ideas that feel ‘long-termish’ even if they are more constituted with method than mission. Consider the example, “we need to build a full service platform for this project. Then we can learn whether there is interest in the product.” Simply because an idea is steeped in long-termishness guarantees neither strategic value nor idea quality. Without adequate means of distinguishing broad,deep thought from long-termishness, he ends up with absurdities masquerading as successes.

 

A note on the tyrants: any resemblance to a single person is coincidental… looking at you Mr. leader over there. We’re also actually not haters of Harrison. He fits the mold here by having had one of the most expansive and lengthy inauguration speeches of all time, but neglected the immediate demands (of the weather) eventually contracting pneumonia and expiring.