Playing to win

Focusing on winning is very different than focusing on not losing.

Have you ever watched your favorite sports team and worried about the mindset that they show up with? It’s amazing how often teams who ‘mustn’t lose’ show up differently to those who ‘must win’. Focusing on winning is very different than focusing on not losing. I always have nerves when my teams are in a game that they mustn’t lose.

I was talking with a colleague a few weeks ago who mentioned a study on business success in early life companies and the likelihoods associated with survival or high-growth depending on the qualifications of the leader. I’m trying to get my hands on the data, but the overriding story was one where when the leader came from a CFO background or some formal MBA qualification the business was less likely to fail. However, very few of them became high-growth firms. The ones where the leader lacked formal business or finance background were more likely to fail completely. But, on the other hand these sorts of firms, if successful, were more likely to succeed in a big way.

Enterprises suffer from the conflict of not wanting to lose/miss earnings reports/lose market share versus creating high growth. It’s often wrapped up in words that mean you are trying to find market parity or catching up with the competition rather than on truly understanding a customer need and providing a unique, compelling solution. The challenge is to find a portfolio mix of ideas that can help protect the core versus drive growth.

Is your current product, service or system something that might be re-framed in a way that focuses on winning versus not losing? How can it better serve the needs of your customers and users?

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