Are you ready for some football?Posted: October 22, 2011
As another big weekend of (American) football awaits, I am again drawn to the broader intuitions and insights we might draw from the game. The best blog I know for analyzing football strategy and tactics (not sabremetrics-like analysis) is the erudite but down-to-earth Smart Football site run by Chris Brown, who now also writes regular columns for ESPN’s Grantland site. Highly recommended for astute and balanced analysis of football trends and history. He also does a great job of calling BS on over-caffeinated TV commentators who love to spout buzzwords they barely understand. (Hmm, sound like anything in the popular business press?)
Even though sports teams only engage in zero-sum competition on the field, there are obvious similarities between this on-the-field competition and business. Both require fitting people with diverse specific skills into coherent patterns of action, patterns intended to give the team some kind of advantage over rivals. There must be fit between the routines developed and the resources (skills) available. There are complicated relationships among the prevalence of particular routines, the scarcity of resources useful for those routines, and the results of competition between different teams’ resource/routine combinations. Why do all the service academies throw relatively few passes and run triple option offenses, when that style has fallen out of favor in college football as a whole? The answer is not that hard to see, and it may shed light on similar but trickier questions in business strategy.