Why Do You Play?

One of my favorite all time sports quotes:

You PLAY to win the game. — Herm Edwards

It’s so simple and so obvious, and yet, so easy to lose sight of.  Herm is right, but it doesn’t just apply to sports, it applies to product development as well.  You play to win, otherwise, get off the team…you’re just dead weight taking up budget.

One of my pet peeves is lack of passion.  It seems that many folks just don’t get it; they’re not playing to win.  They’re playing for their next paycheck.

In product development, like sports, sometimes, you have to take risks.  Get too conservative, and you may see your lead evaporate.  Like sports, you play to win…always.  No team is perfect and no product is perfect, but that simply means that you play to your strengths.  In product development, this means selling to your strengths.  There’s no such thing as a perfect team (as the Patriots proved) and there is no such thing as a perfect product. 

The question for product managers and coaches is how you can work with what you have and maximize your resources and work around your weaknesses.  Fail to do this, and you have failed your team as a leader.  If your running game is weak, don’t force your team to rely on running plays as a primary option.  If your corners are weak, don’t force them to have to cover deep.  If your defense is weak, run your offense to maximize posession time.  Work to the strengths of your team or your product; don’t try to play a style that doesn’t fit your personnel (analogously, don’t use methodologies that don’t fit your resources).

You PLAY to win the game.  So simple and yet so easy to get into a mindset where you play for that paycheck instead of playing to win.

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