Throughout my experiences of working with private companies in the business improvement process, I’ve discovered a few similarities between a successful business and a professional boxer.
A professional boxer undertakes months of rigorous training to develop his strategy for an upcoming competition. Once he enters the ring, though, that strategy needs to be continually updated and adjusted as the boxer faces masses of energy (punches) unleashed by his competitor. The boxer is forced to instinctively gauge the tendencies of the competition, instantly assess the situation, and convert potential issues into opportunities. In other words, he has a plan going into the match, but needs to adjust that plan ‘on the fly’ to respond to and stay ahead of the competition.
A professional fight is similar to business, except in business there are very few rules and the opponent is often much bigger than a heavy weight fighter. Your competition may have deeper pockets, bigger advertising spends, and more experienced teams than you. Yet you still need to find a way to stay ahead of the competition in order to be successful.
When you think about your business and what kind of shape it is in relative to your competitors, ask yourself:
- Can you survive the punches?
- Have you surrounded yourself with the right team, including your advisors?
- Do you know what will make your business sustainable?
- Have you confronted the brutal facts about what needs to change in your business?
- How eager are you to put the time and energy into developing strategies?
- Have you put in the training?
- Do you hold your team accountable for the plan and its implementation?
A key element of successful companies is their ability to isolate the significant few issues from the trivial many. Therefore, the starting point of your training should involve ranking these issues based on their level of relevance and your ability to respond. From there, you can design a plan that holds your team accountable for quantifiable results.
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