Thursday, May 26, 2005

Learning from an analogy - Business & Sports

Something that I came across in an article recently helped me expand on an analogy that I think is cool! For a long time now, I’ve been screaming from roof-tops that success of a business initiative depends most on people factors, followed by process factors and then by technology factors. I’ve been substantiating my argument with examples of people achieving their goals through manual mechanisms – in the absence of processes and tools. Processes help improve efficiency (doing things right) and cut down the time taken to perform something. It also prevents us from making the same mistakes more than once. Technology can improve efficiency by leaps and bounds and help do something in a completely different, cool and convenient way while it is the people factors that contribute to the effectiveness (doing the right thing) of any initiative.

Anyways, coming to the analogy that I referred to, let’s draw a parallel between business initiatives and sports. (Mmmmm. I love analogies. They give us that exciting element of discovery!) The field on which the game is played is the technology. The rules of the game, its techniques, and regulations are the equivalent of processes while the players are the people. It is obvious that the sports player are stars and can play their game irrespective of whether they have a ‘proper’ field or not. Similarly, the absence of rules in no way hampers the exhibition of their raw talent. While the presence of a great field and perfect rules and techniques don’t give us a game. The game comes only from the people. But, yes, the process determines the quality of the game as much as the players. And the technology provides for great and convenient viewing and playing. Once the games rules are frozen and understood by the players and their audience, it is difficult to understand the game minus the rules. Similarly, once the field has been created and used consistently, it is difficult to imagine the game being played on any other surface!

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