Ducks, Football, and Business

What does the college bowl championship game have to do with business, or any organization? Here are two ideas:

1. There was a lot of hype leading up to the college bowl championship game. Almost as bad as the Super Bowl, where I joke that the media have interviewed the refrigerator repairman of the 3rd string tackle’s great-uncle.

Hype, as we’re all aware, is merely forecast, opinion, posturing. It’s not real. What is real is that 2 of Oregon’s players were prevented from playing because they failed their drug tests – they tested positive for marijuana. No hype in the world can alter the results of a drug test.

An AP College Football writer predicted an Oregon win by 5 points. And another writer crowed that Oregon wins in the 4th quarter by wearing its opponents down. Again, forecast and speculation. But not reality. In the 4th quarter, Ohio State outscored Oregon 14-0. Ohio State won, 42-20.

So much for hype and forecasts.

The same is true for business – all the promises in the world, all the forecasts, all the speculation, all the hype, is just that. Empty air. Yes, we require a vision to have us work together to achieve a common goal. But when all is said and done, what really matters is what’s been done. What has been accomplished.

2. In the final analysis, how much does it matter whether Oregon is #1 or #2? Either way, they’ve been to the first national college championship game. Even as #2, they’ll have excellent recruiting position, and excellent financial support, for years to come.

In business, being #2 has its advantages. Avis used the line, “We’re #2; we try harder,” for 50 years! #2 means there is still room to improve. #2 tends to be a little less arrogant, a little less sure of themselves, a little hungrier. And that’s much better for the long term survival of an organization. The business world is littered with #1s who died because they started believing that they were invincible. Bill Gates says that he has learned more from his failures than his successes. So maybe, in the long run, #2 is actually a better place to be than #1.

What has been your experience? Is #2 a better position than #1?

Gary Langenwalter

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