Every Link is Important

The beauty of team sports is that the success of the team cannot be guaranteed by a single player, no matter how high their individual skill level happens to be.  LeBron James comes to mind as the best current example (just pick a team already!).

Team sports are defined by the fact that, sooner or later, the outcome of a particular game (big or small) will come down to a player that no one expected to have a real impact.  Inevitably, the team’s success will be in the hands of someone who is not regarded as a superstar.  Do the names Steve Kerr and David Eckstein ring a bell?

Is there a position on any team sport held with less regard than the kicker on a football team?  Kickers get no respect.  Kickers get duct taped to goalposts.  Kickers have been known to injure themselves simply celebrating their own accomplishments.

This particularly hilarious video podcast from ESPN includes comments about a kicker trying to be intense by a “real football player”.  The guy who made those comments was former NFL player Mark Schlereth.  Schlereth also sells “Stinkin’ Good Green Chile” in and around the Denver area.  Their mildest flavor is called “Just for Kickers”.

With all of this kicker disregard, it’s funny just how many games are decided by the success or failure of a lowly kicker.  Don’t believe it?  Just ask fans of the New England Patriots (miss Vinatieri much?), Buffalo Bills (Scott bleeping Norwood) or our hometown Cincinnati Bengals (both former kicker Shayne Graham and former long snapper Brad St. Louis are held in the same low regard).

Unless your business consists only of you (sometimes with the addition of “and Associates” even when none exist), your business success is not going to be solely within your control.  The bigger your business grows, the truer this axiom becomes.  Recent management-speak using a bus as a metaphor for a business really misses the mark.  A bus, after all, is still controlled by a single driver.  That single driver largely controls the fate of that particular bus.  Are the passengers in the other seats, be they right or wrong, really critical to the success of the bus?

Business isn’t that simple.  A single person doesn’t have that kind of control in most cases.  Sticking with transportation metaphors, business is more akin to a trip via plane than a bus.  Many people, both in the air and on the ground, have significant roles in a successful flight.  Any those same people could also have a significant role in its failure.  Many complex pieces must work together and depend upon one another heavily for the success of the team.

Sales can’t succeed without marketing to get people interested and produce leads.  Sales are great, but are unsustainable without great customer service before and after the sale.  All of those things still aren’t worth much unless you can actually design, manufacture and deliver products that people want to buy at prices that are fair.  If you are a manufacturer, how important are things like actually purchasing the materials you need and having them available when they are needed?  If you are a manufacturer, is your quality department important?  And even if all the above areas are working well, isn’t accounting important to do things like collecting money and paying bills so that you can continue operations?

How many people are involved in these functions at your company?  How many links can fail before the chain (and your business) stops moving forward?

At EXAIR, we are blessed to have a very strong team.  Every piece is important.  Every person helps us succeed as a team and a business.

And every person has my personal thanks for doing their part so well.

Bryan Peters

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