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.

2019 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 4

Our next speaker was the amazing Sheri Riley, author of “Exponential Living – Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are” Her presentation included many BFOs:
  • What will you give up to grow? If you don’t give things up, you limit your capacity to grow.
  • Personal development fuels professional growth
  • Our skills and talents can take us to levels of success that our character can’t sustain
  • Personal development is LEADERSHIP
img_2933-for-blog Her book includes a road map to the title subject, Exponential Living img_2939-for-blog The balance of Sheri’s presentation was about the five steps to Living Your Power
  1. Perspective – “I don’t know” is not the truth, it clouds your vision
    • “Be realistic with your goals and unrealistic with your thinking and your effort.” – Paul Martinelli, President, The John Maxwell Team
  2. Ownership – What are you focused on?
    • When looking at peoples to do lists it was found that
      • People didn’t remember why 1/3 of the items were on their lists
      • 1/3 of the items were for others, and
      • 1/3 were chronologically out of order
    • Most suffered from FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out
  3. Wisdom – What is your plan?
    • Determine your 1 to 3 MOST important NEXT steps
    • Ask yourself, “Am I chasing opportunities that are actually distractions?
  4. Engagement – What adjustments do you need to make to implement?
    • Presence is not enough, being present is the key
    • Multi-tasking is a lie!
  5. Reward – How will you remain consistent?
    • Don’t walk away from a goal because the plan isn’t working
    • Be committed to the goal, be committed to consistency, be flexible with the plan
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  • Broaden our definition of success
  • Eliminate the fear of success
img_2954-for-blog Brad Sugars returned to the stage as our final speaker of BEF.  He discussed reaching critical mass:
  • You must grow into your role and goal
  • Wisdom comes from the application of knowledge
  • Commitment – with bacon & eggs
    • The chicken is a participant
    • The pig is committed!
  • The concept of BE x DO = HAVE
    • Applies to a person
    • Applies to a couple
    • Applies to a team
    • Applies to a company
At the awards dinner the evening of the second day, one of the award winners had a different spin on one of our PowerPoint slides: Instead of You have to learn more to earn more, It’s not about what you earn, it’s about who you become. If you wish to discuss any of the BFOs or concepts presented in this 4-part series, my colleagues and I are just a phone call, email to website inquiry away.  You simply have to take ACTION!

2019 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 3

The second day of BEF kicked off with Michael Losier, author of “Law of Attraction – The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don’t.”  Among the many BFOs were:
  • Contrast – The brief observation of what you don’t want will bring clarity to what you do want
  • The Law of Attraction is like a Google search, refine the search until you find what you are looking for.
  • To invoke the Law of Attraction, refine your Words->Thoughts->Vibes->Results
Our next speaker was Stephen Hightower, President & CEO of Hightower Petroleum Co.  Mr. Hightower was profiled in CNBC’s “Blue Collar Millionaires”, he went from cleaning toilets in his parent’s janitorial business to founding a multi-million-dollar oil company.  One of his big breaks occurred when his company was chosen to provide all the fuel that is put into new cars coming off GM’s production line.  At the time, he didn’t have the credit nor the supply chain to satisfy the contract.  In fact, he needed to triple his capacity.  His search for credit and supply led him to the following BFO:
  • “If the opportunity is big enough, you can find a supplier to support it.”
Having the right relationships has enabled his company to now supply the fuel for most of the cars produced in North America. The additional BFO’s from Mr. Hightower’s presentation included:
  • As long as you don’t die, you have the opportunity to do something different
  • “Exposure gives you the ability to see what is possible.”
  • “90 % of my customers are being called upon by someone else.  100% of my customers were once customers of someone else.”
This last BFO from Stephen Hightower was so powerful and valuable that it covered my BEF investment several time over.  We all have competitors, thus, to succeed for the long haul, we must CONTINUALLY exceed our customer’s rising expectations. Stay tuned for the next installment of BFOs from the 2019 BEF.

2019 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 2

Continuing with Brad Sugars’ presentation.  Brad listed some of his favorite 5 Ways strategies (in his order of preference):
  • Margin:
    • Don’t just raise prices, continually educate your customers and team as to your value proposition
    • Don’t discount – instead of giving away cash, give away value (make it special)
  • Conversion Rate:
    • Training, training, training
    • Make a benefit list – the top reasons customers should buy
    • “you can’t outsell your competitors if you don’t know them.” – Learn as much as you can about what they do well and not so well
    • Flowchart your sales process
    • Use Critical Non-Essentials (CNEs)
  • Average $ Sale:
    • Training, training, training
    • A/B/C/D customers – guide your customers, or send some of them to your competition
  • Number of Transactions:
    • Constantly build your database
    • Rebooking
    • VIP programs
    • Special offers & events
  • Lead Generation:
    • Video testimonials
    • Professionally built website
“Marketing is the life-blood of the business.” Our next speaker was the very inspirational Dr. Jen Welter.  Dr. Welter is the first female coach in the NFL.  She coached the inside linebackers for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.  A few key BFOs are:
  • Don’t live life looking in the rearview mirror
  • Be defined by what you do, not by what people are willing to pay you
  • “You are the producer, director, and lead actor of your life.”
  • “Why fit in when you can stand out?”
  • People listen when you whisper
We finished day one with a presentation from Richard Maloney, Founder and CEO of Engage & Grow Global.  Richard’s presentation revolved around the subject of employee engagement; its definition, costs, and its cure.  Among the many, many BFOs presented are the following highlights:
  • “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt
  • Definitions of the different levels of employee engagement
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  • According to a 2017 Gallup survey of companies in the US 69% of employees were disengaged (a 1% improvement from 2016)
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  • Disengagement looks like this
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  • And a Gallup poll concluded that an engaged workforce yields tremendous benefits
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  • Richard outlined the 6 Steps to employee engagement
img_2913-for-blog A few more key BFOs
  • “If you don’t measure, you lose treasure.”
  • Resolve disagreements within your company quickly – get the “splinters” out before they become infected
  • A great question to regularly ask your team is – “What around here needs to improve to become number one in our industry?”
Stay tuned for the next installment of BFOs from the 2019 BEF.

Good Enough Never Is

I am re-reading “Built To Last” the 2002 book with the subtitle of “Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras.  In Chapter 9, entitled Good Enough Never Is (I borrowed it as the title of this blog), the authors make the following key points:
  • The critical question asked within many of the visionary companies cited in the book is “How can we do better tomorrow than we did today?”
  • The companies in the book institutionalized the asking of that critical question as a way of life.
  • The visionary companies attained their extraordinary position because they were very demanding of themselves, never content to cease building and improving.
  • The author’s research clearly supports a strong correlation between the success of the visionary companies and the concept of “continuous improvement (CI)”, in some cases going back more than 100 years (way before CI became a management catchphrase in the 1980s).
  • Visionary companies put mechanisms of discomfort in place as a defense against complacency.
  • While taking the long-term view, the visionary companies did not back away from pushing for current growth at the same time they pushed for growth in the future. In other words, they didn’t plan for lower sales this year to fund higher sales next year.
  • The visionary companies consistently invested for the future.
These key points and several others were nailed down in the book with specific examples from the author’s research of both the visionary companies and the lower performing “comparison companies.”  For instance, in the case of Marriott (the visionary company) and Howard Johnson (the comparison company) they point out that in 1960 Howard Johnson was one of the best-known American companies.  J. W. Marriott, Jr. said at the time that he hoped that the company he had inherited from his father could one day be as successful as Howard Johnson.  By 1985, Marriott was seven times the size of Howard Johnson.  The book credits this to “Marriott’s relentless self-discipline as a continuous improvement machine versus Howard Johnson’s complacency.”  Marriott instituted mechanisms to stimulate improvement, including:
  • “Guest Service Index” reports – a major KPI based upon customer comment cards and surveys.
  • Annual performance reviews for every employee – EVERY EMPLOYEE.
  • Incentive bonuses.
  • Investment in extensive interviewing and screening of potential new hires.
  • Management and employee development programs.
  • Investment in a corporate “Learning Center.”
  • Employing “Phantom Shoppers.”
In comparing Motorola with Zenith, the author’s point out that Zenith squandered its reputation for quality by becoming complacent.  Zenith was the last company in their industry to invest in solid-state electronics, printed circuit boards and was late to get into color TV.  As an aside, I was in Chicago last month and noticed that the former Zenith headquarters building was being demolished. So, considering this, the questions I want you to ask yourself are:
  • What “mechanisms of discomfort” can you create to defeat complacency in your company?
  • What are you doing to invest in the future of your company? Leadership development? R&D? Enhanced recruiting & training? Technology?  Before your competitors do.
  • When business takes a dip, does your company continue to invest for the future?
  • Does your company’s culture not accept “comfort”, or do you constantly work to do better tomorrow?
You may be thinking that your company is not nearly as big as Marriott or Motorola (now part of Zebra Technologies).  They all started as small companies but adopted these concepts very early in their history.  You can too. Both the good news and the bad news from the author’s is “Good old-fashioned hard work, dedication to improvement, and continually building for the future will take you a long way.”  There are not shortcuts, magic potions or work-arounds. “Success is never final.” My colleagues and I at ActionCOACH are ready to assist you to build your company to last.

Growth vs Culture In A Time of “Full Employment”

I am currently re-reading “Built to Last” the great book by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.  In Chapter 6, entitled “Cult-Like Cultures” the authors discuss their finding of almost religious adherence to a company’s culture within the companies they have labeled as visionary. Following a section describing one person’s experience at Nordstrom, they revealed that contrary to their initial expectation, they found that many of the visionary companies were not great places to work unless team members completely bought the company’s culture. “We learned that you don’t need to create a “soft” or “comfortable” environment to build a visionary company. We found that the visionary companies tend to be more demanding of their people than other companies, both in terms of performance and congruence with the ideology.”  ““VISIONARY,” we learned, does not mean soft and undisciplined. Quite the contrary. Because the visionary companies have such clarity about who they are, what they’re all about, and what they’re trying to achieve, they tend to not have much room for people unwilling or unsuited to their demanding standards.” My coaching clients have taught me that Mission, Vision and Culture (MVC) are extremely important toward consistently delivering long-term value and success, both to the community, the company and the team.  This brings me to a major set of questions:
  • If a demanding MVC reduces the number of people who will be happy working at your company, and if there is virtually full-employment in your area, how will you be able to bring value to a growing number of customers, clients, patients (CCPs) if you cannot recruit team members who will embrace your MVC? GROWTH
  • If due to a lack of viable candidates, you lower the bar and begin to hire team member who are not totally committed your MVC, will your business’ MVC deteriorate? Will you lose your competitive advantage?  CULTURE
  • Finally, does all of this remain completely relevant as the pool of candidates shifts toward millennials?
I admit to not having complete answers to these questions.  However, I do think that businesses that deliver value to the world will be much more attractive to potential team members, regardless of their age group, than companies that exist simply to make money.  What do you think?