What Is It You Really Want?

 

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Now that we’re well into the NFL season, there is something that pretty much all football fans agree on. The San Francisco 49ers are a terrible team.

And those who aren’t busy celebrating the easier road to the playoffs for the Seahawks are wondering what happened.

In the 2014 season, Colin Kaepernick proved himself to be a quarterback that could take a team to the playoffs.  In 2015, he looks like a bad high school player. Additionally, three key retirements, a free agent exodus and some bad decisions have all contributed to his downfall.

Why Did The 49’ers Fall Apart?

jimmy_spitWhy did a team that was one of the top performers in the NFL fall apart?  It all begins with management and what management really wants.

It was well known that the owner of the team and the General Manager did not get along with head coach Jim Haubaugh.  It was rumored that he wasn’t the most popular guy in the locker room either.  Given that, how did he build a successful team?

A Single-Minded Goal …

Simple! He had a single minded goal: To win.  Not to please his management; not to be popular; but a single minded focus to win.  Unfortunately, that did not match up with the goals of his management.

Im-not-a-control-freakThe focus of team ownership and general management was not on winning, but on maintaining control.

So despite a winning record and successful turnaround of a previously mediocre team, Haubaugh got fired. 

And as some of the better players realized that the goals of management were not focused on winning, they bailed out as well.

 

A Big No-No !!!

Of a 145 coaching tenures since 1994, the year the salary cap was instituted, internal hires and positional coaches making the leap to the top rung of the coaching ladder were the biggest no-nos.

The current head coach, coming from the Niners defensive line coach position checks both of those boxes. Trent Baalke, general manager and Jed York, owner, set him up to fail, and the 49ers are left trying to make do with a head coach who is clearly over-matched.

They Got What They Wanted …

take-control-of-your-reviewWhy would they do that?  Because in hiring someone with that profile, they got what they wanted: Control.

What does any of this have to do with my business you may ask?  Quite a bit, actually.  As an example, let’s look at a business that RP has been involved with.

The company was quite successful for a number of years with a decent financial profile and operations that produced a quality product.

Problems Began To Emerge …

As the company was successful and grew beyond the entrepreneur’s direct control, problems began to emerge. The most successful product turned out to have a number of design defects and warranty costs created significant losses. Other operational issues created missing inventory and write offs.

USPS P&LThat was followed by numerous operational errors in sales, production and logistics all of which effected the company’s financial position.

Finally, the bank indicated that they did not want to continue the working capital loan and the company was forced to find a new bank.

This is the point at which Revitalization Partners became engaged.  Our assignment was to find a new bank and help understand and resolve the operational issues.  We did, in relatively short order, locate a new bank and were able to facilitate a new line of credit.

Not As Simple …

The operating issues were not as simple. We began by asking the owner what he saw as the problem. The answer was interesting. The owner believed that he had not been able to hire quality management and as a result had to become more and more involved in the details of every phase of the operation. He was very clear that he wanted our help to hire “A” players.

Employees Presented A Different View …

Interviewing employees presented a different view. They believed that the company had hired a number of “A” players but had been unable to retain them. Some left of their own accord after a short time, others were fired. There was consensus that rather than achieving economic success, the owner’s real interest was in having management and employees that did what he told them in the way that he told them to do it. Those who survived long term behaved in that manner regardless of the impact on the company.

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As any company grows and becomes more complex, the more important it is to have a cohesive management team with a common definition of success and the ability to make use of everyone’s expertise to take the company forward.

Unlike The NFL …

Much like our example of the San Francisco 49ers, this company is a case of the owner’s stated goals being in conflict with actual behavior. The danger is that unlike the NFL, for a badly managed company, there is not always “next year”.