All through February, I’ll share management techniques to improve productivity.  Since the Super Bowl is just around the corner, and I know you have big, important goals to achieve this year, this case study and football-driven infographic will inspire you and accelerate your progress.

Consider this analogy: Most of your time at work is spent playing baseball.  Yes, baseball.  And you need to start playing football a little more regularly if you really want to get the important things done.

Picture a baseball game:  it’s a maelstrom of pop fly and dropped balls, players out of position, desperate slides, base hits that don’t change the score when players are left stranded by strikeouts, your competition stealing bases, and more. Doesn’t that sound like exactly what you’re dealing with every day in your business? It’s reactive, exhausting, and keeps you from focusing on what matters.  It will never, ever go away.  And when you play it every day, it prevents you from executing your strategic goals.

Here’s why.  Your strategic plan probably has numerous goals: you’ve got bases all over the field and you’re always running from one to another, trying to win the game.  But in football, you keep your eyes firmly on one set of goalposts, and simply move the ball down the field.  Sharing the baseball-football game analogy with your team is a powerful tool for focus.

It’s time to change the playing field.

Once you have a clear focus on the single set of uprights that you need to put the ball through (your goal), you need a game plan and a scoreboard to help you slowly and steadily move the ball down the field, whether that’s 1 yard, 10 yards or 50 yards at a time.  Your entire team suddenly becomes able to focus on a clear finish line, even if they play baseball the rest of the week.  This is because when you change the fields, change the rules, and come at it with a different mindset, you also change the results. When you complete one goal (touchdown!) you simply start moving another ball down the field.  When you’re just playing baseball, you can’t score a strategy touchdown!  But when you play football just once a week for 90 minutes, you’ll win the Super Bowl of Execution.

Case Study and Infographic – you need to play both games:

Last fall, one of my manufacturing clients with huge every day issues including quality, staffing, and sales shortfalls made a strategic decision to invest over $400K in a major display at a January tradeshow.  It was a can’t-fail-all-hands-on-deck decision that severely strained tight resources.  They knew they needed a different approach and support tools beyond business as usual, to get them refocused and make it happen.  When I shared the baseball/football analogy, light bulbs went on all over the room, followed by sighs of relief once they grasped the difference in focus and understood that success meant they’d spend time playing both games.

3 management techniques to improve productivity that any business can use were instrumental in their success

  1. They developed extreme focus on simply moving the ball down the field and putting it through the uprights, with a goal of right-the-first-time-and-on-time-execution of the tradeshow strategy plus some specific metrics. The tradeshow was a huge, tangible goal that was important enough to command attention, intention, and a commitment to specific outcomes.
  2. They became agile and implemented a weekly huddle to report out on commitments made, challenges, next steps, and new commitments.  This created a flexible game plan based on desired outcomes instead of the usual detailed To Do lists that focus on inputs and outputs yet never survive the first play. The game plan required them to play football for just 90 minutes once a week over a period of just 90 days, with the confidence to know that most of their time they’d still be playing baseball, taking care of the everyday challenges.
  3. They put accountability and skin in the game: We replaced the typical complex coach’s score card (aka “management reports”) with a simple “player’s scoreboard” so that everyone felt they had skin in the game (accountability) and could see at a glance whether or not they were moving the ball.  Whenever they fell behind in their objectives or encountered roadblocks, they simply figured out the next winning play so that there was a cadence and rhythm to everyone’s accountability, which is crucial for turning good intentions into excellence in execution.

The result?  A ton of hard work, an exhausted but exhilarated team, and flawless execution of a display that built customer loyalty and prospect interest to a completely new level: “Your booth was over the top and extremely impressive.  It was evident by the crowds in it that it was a must see… I’m proud to have Cabico as my most important business partner”

This Super Bowl weekend, make a commitment to start playing football so that you can put it through the uprights every time and win the “Superbowl of Execution.”  What’s the first ball (goal) you and your team will take down the field?

#1 Bestselling Author, International Speaker, and Accelerator Anne C. Graham is on a mission to help 5 million business leaders and their teams double their profit per employee – or more – in less than one year, in less time per week than they’re spending on email per day. Her new book Profit in Plain Sight includes the 5-step proactive P.R.O.F.I+T Plan to do it.  Connect with Anne on Twitter and LinkedIn.