Product-Led companies and team sports – the key similarities
Product-Led companies and team sports – perhaps unsurprisingly – have a few things in common. They both share the concept of a team, where everyone works together towards a shared goal; the inclusive idea that everyone contributes, competing against clearly visible opponents while still focusing on their own game plan.
Defining the Product-Led company
A Product-Led company is one that it is obsessed with its products. It’s the products that set the agenda and align different company functions. The awareness of these products runs deep, throughout the whole company.
The product is deeply rooted in how the team cooperates and determines the ‘way-of-working’, both inside the company and externally towards the market and customers. The team works together as a unit.
Success defined – sharing visions and goals is a good starting point…
It goes without saying that all companies naturally measure sales wins and profits.
But Product-Led companies also care about the wider scope: the ability to launch on time with quality, consistently exceed market expectations and have a well-oiled machinery for development and communication – always with the Product(s) in mind when determining structure and direction.
The elite football, handball or hockey club (or national team) measures wins and trophies – in sports in general the competitive, ‘winning’ element is clear to see. However, team sports also rely upon successful attention to the smaller things – fans, communication, sponsor relations and framing home games.
The idea of success must be shared and known. By all!
Let us look deeper into what a hugely successful Product-Led company has in common with team sports, based on our working experience with a multitude of companies:
- Your own game is known
- There is an understood way of working (the ‘Playbook’) and the team performs because everyone knows the ‘what/when/how’. The roles, responsibilities and accountability in the organization are defined. People know what to expect from each other.
- Every individual knows how to contribute
- Whether it’s the sales rep, support engineer or CEO, they put their knowledge into action every day.
- EVERYONE’S important. EVERYONE matters. In team sports this is well known – you need the whole team to win.
- The competitive landscape (and ecosystem) is well known
- In competition, you need to know what you do best and what others do best. In team sports nobody walks onto the pitch without knowing the opponent and the conditions of the game.
- Planning and preparations are a must. And then practice/implement…
- Plans are needed to set the right goals and are required for an efficient implementation across the entire organization.
- Implementation is the tough part – nothing can be left to luck or chance. It means always planning ahead – whether that be the next product release, the next sales meeting or next R&D test activity. In team sports you practice, ensuring that the team consistently performs well in all departments. Practice, practice, practice!
Benefits of acting like an elite team sports team
There are benefits of acting like a sports team, also in business:
- Robustness/consistency over time
- If everyone contributes, in different ways, with an understood way-of-working, you’re not relying on a single ‘star’ to secure success (critical, given that people move and, indeed, change). Success is achieved through the carefully constructed framework of the team.
- Individual focus in the moment results in tremendous team strength
- When you count on others, every time, all the time; when YOU do YOUR thing at 100%, the team gains and develops as a unit.
- Losses, setbacks and weak spots WILL be taken care of!
- A loss or a setback is a clear signal to improve. This is where good competition is beneficial. Without it you cannot develop properly over time. Taking the competitive component out of sports kills it.
- Efficiency, well-oiled machinery
- Everyone contributes – there is no dead weight. Resources and budgets are not endless – you are only allowed a certain number of players. You need to get the most from what you have, at all times.
Product-Led companies win trophies?
Well, not really, but they generate profits, play hard and show great accountability in tough moments. And they please their ‘fans’, the owners, board and shareholders.
Remember this when your favorite national team competes in the UEFA Euro Soccer in 2021. The winners are not just the team on the pitch, but all the hard-working people behind the victory.
Does the company you’re involved with behave like an elite team sports club?
Do they walk the talk? As a team?