Being a long weekend, I have decided to take some time to kick back and catch up on some reading and relaxation time. I also watched “Hockey Night in Canada” for first time this season. Unfortunately the Leafs got womped by the Canadiens but I can?t say I am too upset. The season is still only starting and I am more a Rangers fan anyhow. The good news was a young Newfoundlander scored his first goal in the NHL.
In thinking about it, I have come to realize that an efficient small company is quite similar to a good hockey team.
Consider the company’s sales & marketing teams (centre), business development division (wing), and finance department (wing) as the forwards. While each group has its own unique strengths and responsibilities, they can feed off each other’s plays to produce winning products and great scoring results. A good lead or move by one can really benefit the entire team?s offensive strategy and performance. The forwards are also always watching over their shoulder to make sure there is someone back on the line for defense. Effective spotting of a hole in the defense line, allows for quick communication or a temporary replacement before any damage can be done.
Similar to a hockey team, the sales and marketing divisions may be the most visible on the score sheet but can be easily overwhelmed if left on their own with no support. Sometimes a good feed from one may lead to a fast break and quick goal, but a more dependable offense is more strategic and requires steady input from all players.
The defense team is the operations team in my opinion. These guys are feeding everyone on the team and are the primary source of the stability for the company. The defensive line can step up and deliver some offense occasionally but are primarily there to act as the foundation of defense for the team. By effectively performing their roles in a timely and effective fashion, they defend the team against opposition and become a symbol for dependability and strength that their fans (clients) grow to depend on. Everyone loves a good defensive team. A good defense team improves the confidence level of the forwards to go out and do what they are best at. Score.
The goalie is a representation of the management team. These are the program managers, product managers, technical leads etc? These players are constantly watching the game and monitoring everything that happens. They are ready to block off adversity and transform it into an offensive strategy, kick it off to side, or sometimes when the going gets tough they will stop the play just to give everyone a chance to catch their focus again. While often viewed as the strength of a team, these players are only as good as those around them. A poor skating team with an amazing goalie is still going to be a losing team. A good goalie learns to love and respect his/her team and depends on them tremendously.
As in hockey, the absence of one player may be handled for short amounts of time but places a great deal of strain on remaining players. When a team is shorthanded, they are vulnerable to adversity and can be worn down very easily. For that reason, all team members should do their best to keep themselves on the ice at all times. Sometimes an innocent slip up can really hurt the entire team.
The coaching staff is representative of a company?s executive management team. These are the people who are constantly seeing the big picture and drawing up the plays that optimize the strengths of each line. No matter how good a team is, they need strategic direction. This isn?t always easy to see when viewing the game from the ice and that is why it is important to have an executive team that knows where they are needed most. Absence of a good coaching staff can result in a bunch of players all performing their best but going nowhere since they are not performing with a common goal in mind or do not have a proper roadmap or playbook to get there. A good executive team is aware of the performance of every division and should be able to adjust lines and build plays that will deliver both a solid offense and bulletproof defense.