Winning the Game

By: Curtis Roe, Director of Finance, Purcell Murray Company, croe@purcellmurray.com

There is a natural trend I think we follow. We continue to pursue stability and predictability. The more that we succeed in this process, the more complacent we become. When complacent, it can be difficult to see where to improve. A natural defensive perspective takes over to protect that which was achieved. This is easier to observe as third party witness.
Take a restaurant for example. When opening the enterprise, the owner has optimism and enthusiasm about the future. There is so much work to be done. Picking the location, the menu, the staff, the theme, floor plans, and how to manage the finances. If I see a restaurant that is not clean, I assume something is wrong. The tables, floors, windows, must be clean and please clean the bathrooms. If all of that is in order, the business usually is too. Consider a convenience store. Are the shelves stocked with current products and is the store clean? These are easy fixes that invite the public in and show quality. The store owners in these examples can easily get caught in managing staff or product costs and forget these details. If you aren’t bringing in the business, then it doesn’t matter what you have for sale. If the store isn’t clean, you are probably not getting the business you could.
I heard a good interview with 49er head coach Kyle Shanahan. A key player recently broke a bone and will miss a good part of the season. Kyle said that injuries are part of the game that just happen and they have to work around them. He didn’t focus on the loss of the dependable player and the leadership that won’t be on the field. He is focusing on the players that are ready to play and how to use their skills to win the next game. They need to stay focused. The most important game of the season is always the next game they have to play. They need to be aware of the whole season, but if they don’t execute well now, what happens later might not matter. The upcoming opponent also lost a key player. The replacement is relatively unknown. Planning to defend against him presents the challenge of the unknown. Kyle and his team will watch tape together. They will discuss as a group things they notice about how he plays and look for ways to work around him.
In football, careers come and go quickly. Each game is important. One week you’re a head coach. The next week you might be unemployed. So each week is like a new job. The opponent is different. The only thing that matters is the win. In our businesses, we are confronted with similar challenges. We need to win the business of the public. If they don’t come, we lose. So let’s get the team together. Let’s talk about our business and how we can win. And let’s make sure we keep it clean.