The Golf Ball and How Nike Missed The Boat

Leading up to the 2000 US Open tournament, virtually all the golf balls in use, especially by professionals, were of wound construction.  Top of the line balls had balata covers which better golfers beat to shreds.  Tour pros routinely used six balls per round.  The exception was a Titleist ball with an Elastomer cover, the Titleist Professional, which closely resembled the Tour Balata, but with a more resilient cover.

At the beginning of the 2000 season, Tiger Woods, who was a Nike athlete was using the Titleist Professional ball.  Nike in partnership with Bridgestone Golf was prototyping a ball called the Nike Tour Accuracy, which Tiger call “My Ball”, planned for release at the beginning of the 2001 PGA Tour season.  In early 2000 Tiger had narrowed the prototype field down to two versions.  After some additional testing, the final version of the ball was brought to Hamburg for testing during practice rounds at the 2000 Deutsche Bank-SAP Open.  In a wind-swept heavy rain, Tiger hit a drive from the first tee with the Titleist Professional ball that the wind caught and push into the rough.  Tiger next hit the Nike prototype on the same starting line. The Nike ball moved about five yards in the wind and stopped in the middle of the fairway.  In May 2000, Tiger switched to the Nike ball, ahead of the original schedule.  Starting with the 2000 US Open, Tiger won his “Tiger Slam” with “My Ball” and changed the golf ball industry in the process.

What does this have to do with business?  During that period, Tiger Woods was the most influential golfer in the world.  That influence resulted in a complete move away from wound golf balls to the new two- and three-piece balls.  To quote Tiger;

“I won four majors with that ball, and the rest is history because wound-ball technology is gone.  Everyone switched.”

Unfortunately, Nike was totally unprepared to capitalize on Tiger’s success using the Nike Tour Accuracy golf ball.  Kel Devlin, Nike’s global director of sports marketing still ponders the circumstances around the ball.

“If we had enough capacity, and I could have gotten the sports marketing folks and Phil [Knight] to buy into the bigger program … if we’d had the ball available to any Tour player who wanted it four weeks earlier than we did …”

Result?  Nike is no longer in the golf ball business and Titleist continues as the far and away best-selling brand of golf balls.

So, I ask you the same question I ask of most of my clients when they are about to begin a new strategy or marketing program,

“What if this works?”

When you do something new, do you prepare for success?  If you are launching a new product or item, do you arrange for timely delivery of inventory on a just-in-time basis?  If you are launching a new service, has your team been fully trained to consistently deliver the service up to the quality you require, while continuing to support (not losing) your existing loyal clients?  To successfully scale your business, it is essential to ask these questions and many more as part of your planning and implementation process.

My ActionCOACH colleagues and I are expert at assisting clients just like you in the development of new products and services and business growth.

*Based on an article in the June 2019 edition of Golf Magazine.

It (Almost) Never Fails

While flossing my teeth this morning I recalled my late mother’s expression “It never fails.”  I decided to write this blog about my top three list of things that never fail, well almost never fail. Of course, top of mind and number one on the list:
  1. The last piece of dental floss in the container is too short to be useable – Unless you are a dental floss savant, this “never fails” is based on pure luck.
The second “never fails” applies to most amateur golfers:
  1. A golf ball that strikes a tree on either side of a fairway will (almost) always bounce away from that fairway – While this “never fails” has an element of luck associated with it, a golfer could improve their odds by being coached and taking lessons with a PGA professional. As their ability to hit a golf ball where they aim increases, they will reduce the number of trees hit.  By the way, a great golf KPI is number of fairways hit.
Number three on the list of “never fails” is about, unfortunately, most business owners and their businesses:
  1. A business owner without written plans will fail to reach their business and personal goals – My colleagues at ActionCOACH and I have witnessed too many businesses that have grown organically, without plans. Before I joined ActionCOACH I had several turn-around engagements.  Every company I worked to rescue exhibited a lack of planning.  The effect of lack of planning was a major reason they arrived in a turn-around situation.
Our ActionCOACH clients benefit from our planning culture.  All my clients have some, if not all of the following plans:
  • 90 Day working on the business plans
  • Classical business plans with budgets, cashflow, revenue and expense projections
  • 1, 3 and 5-year Organization Charts
  • Hiring plans with trigger benchmarks
  • Marketing plans
  • And others
As the expression goes; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The benefits of planning are numerous:
  • Plans, especially written plans, have a very high correlation with success.
  • Plans are essential if you have a team. They communicate your goals and engage your team toward goal achievement.  Simply put, plans help you, and your entire team get leverage of skills, knowledge and time.
  • Plans inoculate your business against failure. While there are no guarantees, planning certainly stacks the desk in your favor.
  • The process of producing and maintaining your plans is just as important as the actual plans. It is a major part of your responsibility as a business owner to create a success environment for you and your team.
  • And many more.
If your business is not about to require a rescue, it is not too late to become a proactive, planning high-achieving business owner with an exceptional business.  The choice is up to you, don’t plan to fail! Should you choose not to plan to fail, my colleagues and I at ActionCOACH will be happy to assist you on your path to business success.  Simply contact me or your local ActionCOACH. Finally, please let me know what some of your top “never fails” are in your comments to this blog.

Highlights from My Vacation Reading

I took the first two weeks of August for a trip to Europe with my wife, Tammy.  Tammy joined one of Berkshire Choral International’s groups which rehearsed and sang in Budapest, Hungary.  While she was in rehearsals I toured Budapest and caught up on my reading, both business and pleasure.  Following are comments about and links to a few of the articles that struck a chord.
  • Jason Fried in the July/August 2017 issue of INC Magazine in an article headlined Starbucks Wasn’t Built in a Day, subtitled “Entrepreneurs are told to go big or go home. Stop obsessing over scale, and perfect the basics.”   In the article Jason talks about John who wishes to open a tea shop, but often drifted to talking about his next shop, and his next shop, etc.  He advises John to slow down and get the basics right before focusing on rapid growth.  I have long agreed with this philosophy.  While there is nothing wrong with having big long range goals, we emphasize long term planning at ActionCOACH, one needs not to get ahead of one’s self.  One of the major points of the ActionCOACH 5-Way Formula is that a business must be built in balance.  Before I joined ActionCOACH, I had several turn-around clients.  One in particular, a consumer goods company, had great marketing and product, but couldn’t reliably deliver their products to their customers, the retail stores.  Ultimately their customers abandoned them in favor of suppliers that had great product, marketed well and consistently delivered.  My client had grown their business out of balance, and could not cover the basics.
  • In the July 2017 issue of Golf Digest an article about confidence by Sam Weinman titled What If Everything You’ve Been Told To Think Is Wrong? caught my eye. Within the article are several concepts that apply equally to business as well as golf.  One very important concept was highlighted by a quote from Dr. Fran Pirozzolo, a sports psychologist and mental-skills coach “Confidence is a garbage term in that it induces illusions of competence.”  If in business, we confuse confidence with competence, our mind will be closed to our limitations and that will limit our ability to construct plans to overcome them.  It is the difference between an “I Know” attitude which cuts off learning and an “Isn’t that interesting” attitude which encourages learning.

Another concept applicable to business revolves around Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck’s division of our mind-sets into two categories:

– Fixed mind-set – people who seek validation of their abilities – Growth mind-set – people who believe their skills can be cultivated through effort

The final concept that jumped off the page also came from Dr. Pirozzolo – “Don’t believe the hype.”  During my career in the fashion industry, I was aware of countless fashion designers who crashed and burned because they believed the hype and were unable to adjust to changing market and business realities.

  • From the September 2017 issue of Success Magazine John C. Maxwell has an article about time management 4 Tips to Set Yourself Up for a Better Tomorrow Today.” The title of the article says it all.  In our TimeRICH seminar, we encourage the audience to be militant about their time.  Along the militant line, Maxwell’s article contains a great quote I intend to add to the TimeRICH presentation:

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Improve them, and they will become the brightest gems.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

These are just a few of the ideas I gleaned during my vacation reading, I hope you will find them useful.

What Can We Learn About Business From Luke Donald?

While catching up on my non-business reading the other day, I read an article in the May 2012 edition of Golf Digest by Jaime Diaz about Luke Donald (Golf Digest Article).  The article triggered a few ideas about business that will assist you in achieving greater success as a businessperson:
  1. If You Want To Manage It, You’ve Got To Measure It (An oldie but a goodie) – Shot-Link has provided professional golfers many additional pieces of data they can use to improve their game.  Luke Donald, not the longest hitter in the game, looked at the stats, selected several to focus upon, and took action to build on his strengths.  Result? Luke attained number 1 position on the World Golf Ranking for 40 consecutive weeks.  The lesson, carefully develop and select your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators),  measure them consistently and develop an action plan to improve your results.
  2. Build On Your Strengths – Many times we are tempted to improve those things we are not good at instead of building on our strengths.  In business, we can, and should, improve on our strengths and, without totally ignoring, effectively delegate those things we are not good at, hate to do, or shouldn’t be doing.  Luke did not ignore his driving accuracy while he became “a colossus astride the vital real estate from 100 yards and in.”  Turn defense into offense.
  3. Cover The Fundamentals – In order to achieve consistency Luke Donald went to work on his fundamentals.  Consistency is perhaps the key ingredient in your recipe for long-term success.
Working with an ActionCOACH business coach is mostly about all of the above.  To learn how I, or my colleagues will assist you being ranked number 1 in your field, please contact me.

Great Quote From Jack Nicklaus

I was reading GolfWorld magazine the other day and saw the following quote from The Greatest Game of All: My Life In Golf by Jack Nicklaus and Herbert Warren Wind:
“How do slumps begin?  They begin from neglect, and neglect finally leads to a loss of confidence.  You can practice a lot but still be neglectful – neglectful of the fundamentals.  During a long stretch of poor golf I suffered through in the winter and spring of 1967, I tried to rouse my game by attempting to bring off increasingly complicated shots.  What I should have done was to back up, return to the fundamentals, and get one thing at a time under control.”
You might ask what this quote about golf has to do with business, but to me this speaks volumes about business.  When working on turnarounds before I joined ActionCOACH, I saw first-hand how much trouble a business can get into by ignoring the fundamentals and how troubles were magnified when those businesses tried to hit home runs to get out of trouble. Heroic measures rarely work.  Returning to fundamentals, returning to Action’s 5 Ways and 6 Steps will provide a solid foundation for any business to build (or rebuild) upon. If you are facing or are in a slump, return to business fundamentals.  Actually, even if your business is currently booming, never lose sight of the basics if you want to achieve long term success.