PART I
Setting the Right Priorities
Don’t Look at the Scoreboard

Youth basketball coaches frequently have to remind their players not to look at the scoreboard mid-play. They often end up screaming it, because a young player’s urge to measure their current standing is not easily suppressed, even when they should be focused on scoring.  

Here’s an idea we can apply throughout our daily lives, as it relates to task-completion: is it the thrill of the fight, or are we counting the punches? In business, do we focus on the numbers or on being competitive?  

It’s a thin line; it might sound like the same thing. But, ideally, we would want to focus on competing with innovation and letting the numbers follow, rather than obsessing over spreadsheets and revenue comparisons. The marketplace offers the same “scoreboard” problem, but instead of one, you have hundreds of scoreboards, nearly countless things to compare, to measure some elusive definition of “success”.  

Sticking to the Mission
Keep Your Eye on the Ball

The difference between a “score-keeping” philosophy and a truly competitive one is that the former is only a partial commitment to competition. It’s withholding value from your stated mission, whether it’s “Quality So-and-So” or “The Best Customer Service in all the Land”, then winking at your balance sheet to let it know, at the end of the day, it’s the only one you love – in scorekeeping, you’re looking at innovation across an industry, how it scores, and examining the gains of competitors on a superficial basis, rather than actually discovering the roots of success.  

For example: 

Score-keeping: “Company X offered feature Y and made Z gains, therefore we should also release feature Y.” 

Competitive: “Why feature Y? What about it attracts customers? Is that feature right for our customers? If we release something similar, will we see a bump in revenue?" 

Stiff competition focuses more on the how-to than the how much, benefits more than features. It has big goals, it knows about revenue, but it doesn’t lose sight of the smaller underlying objectives. Another phrase that comes to mind from childhood rec sports is “Keep your eye on the ball!”  

What’s your ball? It’s the thing that’s going to put points on the board, the revenue generator. Probably the most widely-acknowledged, conceptual “ball” in the marketplace is customer satisfaction. Still, in spite of a direct link between customer satisfaction and revenue, it’s somehow easy to acquire tunnel vision for revenue alone. As with all trials and competitions, our eyes might drift to the scoreboard, causing us to stumble and lose the ball.  

PART 2 >>