What EPM and NFL Football Have in Common – Part I

Companies and football teams both have goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, employees and other resources, competitors, stakeholders, customers, and outcomes.  But the biggest lesson I think we can draw is how to review performance mid-stream and execute mid-game adjustments that create a better outcome – winning.

Before we dive into that lesson, I’ll start in Part 1 of this two-part series with looking at why and how performance management in business looks a lot like it does in NFL football.

So let’s kick this off!

* American football for those reading this outside the US

Performance Management in NFL Football vs. Business

As I watched the Patriots defeat the Jaguars a few weeks ago (yes, I’m a Patriots fan), I was struck with the clear similarities between business and NFL football

They both start with goals and objectives set by the stakeholders – i.e., the owners of the team/business.  In football, these are likely set for the football season. In business, these are typically set for the fiscal year, and maybe beyond as part of a 3-5 year plan.

In business, goals/objectives focus on revenue growth, market share, customer acquisition, profitability or shareholder return.  In football, it all revolves around how well the team performs – making the playoffs, winning the division, or winning the Super Bowl.  These all drive revenue and profits via ticket sales, concessions sales, advertising in the stadium, television coverage, and team apparel and merchandise sales. 

Strategic Planning

In both cases, strategies are developed and pursued to help the team or company achieve its goals and objectives – raising capital, recruiting the right leadership, drafting or hiring the right players and support staff, targeting specific markets, branding and messaging for the company/team and its products, etc. 

Then, the strategy for the upcoming season or year comes down to how the organization is going to use its resources to achieve objectives.  Questions to be answered look something like this:

  • Who’s going to manage the team – lead the company?
  • Who’s going to be the starting quarterback – head of sales or division general manager?
  • Who’s going to be the backup to the starter – serve as regional VPs/Directors?
  • Who’s going to train the players – train the sales and services groups?
  • Who’s going to identify and recruit new players – run talent management?
  • Who’s going to scout out the other teams – gather competitive intelligence?
  • How much are we going to spend – what’s the budget?

Tactical Game Plan

From there, we go to the “game plan” for the next contest, or in the case of business, the next competitive customer evaluation. 

  • What’s our offensive game plan?
    • Football:  Run the ball or go with a passing game? 
    • Business:  Go for quick wins with small sales or compete for the bigger deals?
  •  What plays should we run?
    • Football:  Run up the middle or go with a flanking strategy, outside sweeps?
    • Business:  Compete directly with a market leader, or focus on specific niches and customer needs? 
  • What’s our defensive game plan?
    • Football:  Attack the quarterback, or hang back and cover the receivers? 
    • Business:  If our competitor is telling lies about us, do we reciprocate, or take the high road and focus on solving the customers’ business problems?

Having the right game plan, using the right resources on the field, and running the right plays at the right time has a huge impact on whether you win or lose. 

In Part II of this series, I’ll highlight the mid-game review and adjustment process and the lessons business can learn from NFL football.

To learn more about EPM and how to select an EPM solution, download our free white paper “A Buyers Guide to Enterprise Performance Management Suites”.   

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