National OctopOSS Association

Professional sports is a business.”
Lynn Swann

The above is true, but is there also a lot that business can learn from professional sports?

  1. With most professional sports, there is a clear goal for every team, the championship at the end of each season. This defines the vision that all players and coaches are working towards
  2. Coaches evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their playing squads and establish a game-plan that they believe is best suited to win the championship
  3. The overall goal must be broken down into discrete elements – there are a certain number of games that go towards winning the championship
  4. Each game has a different set of competitors and deliberate planning is made ahead of each game
  5. Coaches build an environment of teamwork above individual achievement as a means of achieving the goals. Individuals are constantly seeking to improve those around them for the good of the team
  6. Teams are constantly seeking out innovations in tools or methods to give a competitive advantage over other teams
  7. Teams spend significantly more time planning and training than they do actually playing each game

The above analogies form parallels with almost any business or project team. It is probably the first and last points that are most commonly overlooked by organisations with OSS.

  • As operational tools, it is natural to see OSS as constantly evolving to meet operational needs, but their implementation teams tend to only have a focussed goal if someone has defined an objective within a particular time-frame equivalent to winning the championship at the end of each season.
  • The more interesting contrast is the amount of time and money that professional sports teams spend on training and coaching compared with most OSS organisations. As a percentage of spend, OSS training (formal or informal) would be embarrassingly small by comparison to professional sports teams in most situations, yet learning is an essential means for your delivery teams to be able to meet objectives


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