One of the things that intrigues me about the Tour de France is the race for the other jerseys. Not only are you cheering for the Yellow Jersey given to the best overall time for the tour, but you are also keeping a close eye on the races within the race. Who is the going to get the Polka dot Jersey for points earned in the climbs? Who will get the White Jersey for the best young rider? Who will get the Green Jersey for the best sprinter?
Looking closer at the Green Jersey, we see the planning and technique exhibited by these sprinters. Some of the attributes I would give to these riders are: fearless, strong, smart, risk takers and most important, strategists.
There is a unique excitement when you see the riders cross the line at the end of a sprint. For some of us it is more trilling than a “Hail Mary” touchdown pass, or a 1/2 court shot that goes in at the buzzer. The thrill for me is due to the fact that these riders have developed a plan and executed it to perfection.
For sprinters to be successful they need to study the course. They need to know their own strengths. They find out who their competition will be and what their individual strengths are. If they have played their cards right they have tested their competition at different points along the course and have a good feel for how they are riding that day.
When the line for the points approaches they are thinking about where they are positioned in the pack or breakaway and they are jockeying for just the right spot when the sprint begins. For them it is a game of tactics to outsmart their competition.
The winner is rarely the one in the lead when the sprint starts. They know that to win they need to work with their competition, leveraging their strengths and exploiting their weaknesses. Yes, the sprinter, who wears the Green Jersey, is a great strategist.
In business our fiscal year is similar to the sprints of the race. We race for the month end, quarter end, and year-end reports trying to please our team director (the stock market). However, if we have not executed our strategy well enough, we find ourselves falling short in the little sprints along the way. We may pick up a few points here and there only to find ourselves getting dropped before the final sprint of the race.
In order to win the Green Jersey in our business, we need to ask ourselves the following:
- Have we been realistic about what it will take to win?
- Have we created an appropriate strategy for the stage we are in?
- Have we positioned ourselves to finish strong?
- Are we doing what it takes to get to take the race?
Have we been realistic about what it will take to win?
What does it take to win the race? The formula is clear. We need to fulfill the needs of our stakeholders. This is more than just meeting the needs of our customers by providing the right goods or services. We need to look at all the people who have a stake in our business.
These might include our Stockholders, Investors, Board of Directors, Employees, Community and others. We need to be clear on what they need from us this year. We also need to make sure it aligns with our Mission, Vision, and Values for our organization.
Have we created an appropriate strategy for the stage we are in?
In the Tour, every stage presents unique challenges. In our business, the environment we work in, can change dramatically from year to year. Look at what happened to the world economy when the housing market crashed in the U.S. in 2007.
We need to be realistic about the current economic situation and create a plan that matches the market. I have seen organizations that were able to thrive in down economies because they were able to find needs to be met and satisfied them well.
Have we positioned ourselves to finish strong?
Positioning ourselves to finish strong takes communicating our plan to our team players. If you want to know how you are doing in this area, the true test comes in asking employees throughout what the top goals for the organization are for this year. You may be surprised at what you find. However, to win the race your organization needs to have a focused plan in place and everyone needs to know what it is.
Are we doing what it takes to get to take the race?
For an organization to finish strong and take the green jersey, everyone needs to be clear on what they want to achieve and there needs to be a line of sight to the corporate goals. Systems and processes need to be in place that will drive the success of these goals.
When departments are contributing in their own way to the success of the corporate goals people feel like they are contributing. They are engaged in the success of the organization and they are committed to winning the race.
In our businesses we need to create a strategy based on stakeholder needs and the reality of the economic and organizational environment. Then we need to execute it to perfection. When we do this we will succeed in what ever environment we are in.