Performance and Competitiveness

Hurricane Sandy’s tragedy continues to unfold in ways I can’t describe. While the media will rightfully focus on the horrible loss of life, property and commerce, I want to contrast the remarkable work being done by combined public and private forces post-Sandy to those failing.

As Sandy was barreling up the east coast, die hard NY Jets fan and season ticket holder that I am, I went to the Jets-Dolphins game on Sunday. On my way in I was stopped by a gate security supervisor who aggressively told me I could not bring the small bag I was carrying in to the stadium. Despite my showing her the bag contained towels and rain gear, and despite the fact I’ve been toting the same small bag to MetLife Stadium since it opened, she wouldn’t relent. Of course the Jets went on to lose 30-9 as they once again limp their way through a mediocre season. The organization’s judgment and execution–on the field, its personnel moves, or the over-officious security supervisor–is consistent, typically resulting in being on the short end of a 30-9 score.

After the worst of Sandy cleared my Connecticut neighborhood, I went out for a walk and saw literally dozens of well-coordinated crews working on different streets to clear roads blocked with enormous trees, fix power lines and ultimately restore electricity. Undoubtedly each crew was led by a supervisor, but I couldn’t tell because everyone on each work team was furiously working intent on getting the job done. Clearly, they were well trained and inspired to produce results despite many challenges. Both the town and state officials have provided regular updates throughout this ordeal.  Everyone impacted by Sandy will suffer, but for most of us it’s a pain of inconvenience. Thank goodness the companies and agencies managing Sandy clean-up operate at the opposite end of the spectrum from the NY Jets!

Shorthand and oversimplification remain two of the biggest problems US businesses face. 

When we think of athletes we automatically assume “competitive” yet the Jets have lost 2 of their 4 home games this year by scores of 34-0 and 30-9…nothing competitive about that.  By contrast, government agencies are routinely ridiculed for not performing and if there is any business sector that gets the same scorn it’s the utilities.  My professional and life’s experience continues to lead me to one absolute truth: 

Great organizations can be built and are to be found in any field, but it certainly requires great management PLUS leadership.  

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