Exercise is good for you, doctors say that. But no, I am not here to writing a fitness. I am talking about how sports helps you take business decisions better.
For long, I have believed that if you want to judge how someone does business, watch how they play a game of sports. The golf courses around the world are famous for some of the biggest business deals to take place. Many other deals take place in the VIP sections of major sports events. Any game of sports, just as life, has its ups and down. Some are just born talent while others work their ass off to become a good player. So, how does this relate to business?
Barack Obama, the 44th President of the Unites States, was once asked what game he would call politics and he referred to American football. Just like in football, there are many players to work along with and you constantly have to change strategies and you have to keep pressing and push the ball up the field, sometimes even one yard at a time. Politics was his business at that point of time and this representation is quite fascinating.
Some like to play individual sports while others like to play team sports. While team sports would have a captain or a leader, individual sports you are pretty much on your own. Similarly, in business, some like to build a team and lead them while others like to be in charge themselves. A captain’s attitude is always under the scanner and people are quick to notice if they are captain cool, or hot headed or too scared to take risks. I believe you can observe similarities in the way they run their businesses in the way they play the sport, and this is not just restricted to the captain or leader!
I play cricket every weekend with a group of friends. One of them, I have known for 15 years. As a kid, he has always been hot headed and gets rallied up quite quickly. However, in the past one year, I noticed that he has learned to control his emotions, stay calm and even ready to take a few risks. He still gets rallied once in a while, but it is a vast change. The interesting thing is when he was discussing about his business, I could notice the similarity. He is willing to take risks quite often in his business and is far patient in his dealing as well.
In your day to day business, people probably would not yell at you if you do commit a mistake, most often no one would be aware about it. But when you are playing sports, specially with your friends or close ones, they will let you know their displeasure. Few weeks back, someone told me that I tend to get too defensive and that I should play more freely. I realized that I conduct business in similar fashion and that I need to make some changes in business as well.
In conclusion, if you run a business or intend to someday, go out and play. If you don’t, then figure out a sport that you would like to play, either with your friends, or love ones or whoever you can find. I am sure a game of sport will teach you something that you can implement in your business. And lastly, keeping the current pandemic and playing sports in mind, make sure that you always abide by the rules of the government and maintain social distancing.
In the 60’s, when Pizza Hut and Dominos entered the pizzeria business, their decisions to expand their business relied pretty much on how much they were making each day. When Tom Monaghan, the founder of Dominos, realised that they can earn even up to $3,000 in a single night through a promotion, he knew it was an instant hit. That promotion was Super Sunday way back in Jan 1971. Tom did not need a BI to help him take decisions, he figured this one out himself!
Today, Data Science, BI or Business Intelligence, Machine Learning or even the simplistic phrase, data driven decision making, has all become a norm. Mind you, I am all for it. I strongly believe that businesses should adapt themselves with time which can be a separate topic to be talked about. My own firm encourages businesses to install practices which helps make best use of their data.
The topic for discussion is how do businesses make use of the data and how bold are they to go ahead and take decisions to make them. It is one thing to know what needs to be done but doing what is right or what you think is right, is the real beast! Think of it this way, I can see my belly and I know that I need to lose weight. The obvious answer would be to exercise. Other alternatives would be to change diet or undergo a surgery and remove the extra flab. But how often one finds unable to take any action. That is what I am talking about. Often I notice that even while businesses have all the information they need to take a decision, no matter whatever solution you feel is best, they simply fail to take any action. It is even acceptable if the action plan fails. At least we tried right! But quite often management overlook until the time comes when taking any action is too little too late.
In 2009, Patrick Doyle was informed by the research team that in the taste scores, people rate Dominos much less when they know they are eating Dominos pizza than the blind taste. The information was evident, people think Dominos pizza taste bad. Patrick knew that making changes into their processes and make the pizzas taste better is not going to work. People didn’t have problem with the pizzas, it was Dominos that they begin to hate. His decision to run a campaign where Dominos openly accepted that their pizzas taste bad was one of the boldest moves ever taken by a CEO. It worked dividends as sales went up by 14%.
The results of a taste scores can be captured much accurately and presented in far fancy looking reports than it was back then, thanks to all the latest tools that are there at disposable. The question however that arises is, would any intelligence have come up with the idea to deal with the problem in the way Patrick and his team did. And more importantly, as a business, would you have the guts to take such a decision? Just to give you a sense of how detrimental this could have been, a food consumer is stating that their pizzas, their core product taste bad, they even had consumers state that their ‘crust taste like cardboard’! You never step into a restaurant where the person at the door says, “We know our food taste bad but thank you for dining with us”. That was simply guts based on which businesses have been working since time.
As I have said before, data is important and we at Ima Solution strongly encourage it. Dominos needed the data to know how consumers feel about them. The key takeaway is act upon the information that you have, no matter what the result may be. If you still living under the rock and don’t use data, start using it now! If you do, then sit with your team and act on the information that you have collected. Because without that, you might be just sitting on a pile of gold, unaware!