Perhaps 49er Coach, Mike Singletary’s “Getting-Results-Style” could be an example of how to succeed in business for 2010?

I couldn’t have wished for a better end-of-year lengthy discussion than my lengthy session with Chris this week. He’s one of the brightest, curious and most committed young professionals I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. As we get set to bury the truly God-awful 2009 reconnecting with Chris is the best reinforcement that better days are ahead because ambitious emerging talent always leads to a better future.

During our discussion Chris talked about a particular department he had been working with that certainly had issues but he said was thankfully comprised of “many experienced people.” He reeled off a rather extensive list of issues, but the headlines were:
1. The department didn’t have a true manager;

2. Each of the department employees did things their own way;

3. 2009 was a disappointing year for the company, revenues were off and although they had made great progress, costs were still higher than they should be. As he assessed it, the biggest cause for higher costs was waste due to breakdowns in the order entry-to-production cycle;

4. The department was supported by tools that were decent enough and although they were constantly being upgraded not everyone in the department thought it necessary to use them;

5. The company and its industry was going through radical and perhaps even painful changes but not everyone in the department was sensitive enough to these changes to adopt new methods.
So here I am with a wonderfully gifted individual who represents the future, fascinated by his apparent celebration of the past–one that was no longer working–who valued experience.

Clearly,”experience” can mean a great deal of many positive things, but in an environment that is defined by change, I’m rather certain that captivity to experience –for the sake of it– is a guaranteed losing strategy. Of course Chris, like all of us, must respect and honor proven experience yet I believe it is just as important to keep in mind that experience is not a synonym for expertise.

Given the five isolated problems (listed above), does this seem like an expert group?

Shortly after speaking with Chris I found the time to finally check out the 2010 NFL Pro Bowl rosters. The first thing I noticed was, although named an alternate, NY Jets’ Left Tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson didn’t make the AFC roster. A classic case where voters confused experience with expertise because in his 4th year Ferguson played so expertly he deserved to earn Pro Bowl. But the selection that really leaped off the page was San Francisco 49er Tight End Vernon Davis earning the starting Pro Bowl spot for the NFC. That’s the same Vernon Davis who wanted to do things his own way during the 2008-2009 season his coach, Mike Singletary, publicly blasted him, more than once. A year ago it sure looked like Vernon Davis was headed for the scrap heap of “uniquely gifted athletes never to be heard from again, destroyed by a lousy attitude.”

Singletary, an NFL Hall of Fame player and a 10-time Pro Bowl selection himself cared enough about excellence, followed his convictions to push Vernon Davis, and one year after Davis was shocked by his head coach’s tirades against him, undoubtedly was the catalyst for Vernon Davis becoming an NFL all star.

For Chris and his company and all others, I wish only the best things for you in 2010 and suggest it can be a wish-come-true by applying a bit of Mike Singletary’s style of getting results to succeed in business climate more volatile, competitive and exhausting than the NFL.

Happy 2010 Everyone!

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