Just Another Game or a Strong Business Strategy?

If you’ve ever watched a soccer game, you know how important interconnectedness is to the success of either team. Soccer is a team sport; a sport where every player’s skillset matters. You could argue that basketball is also a team sport, but one star basketball player can easily dominate the court and the game, while a star soccer player needs his or her entire team to get the win. Take the Cleveland Cavaliers for example. The Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, not because they had the best team, but because they had the most dominate player in the game. Our U.S. Men’s soccer team on the other hand, fell short to Argentina, whose interconnectedness was evident in the Copa America Centenario semi-finals.

Malcolm Gladwell gave this same analogy at The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry 144th Annual Dinner, and if you were fortunate enough, like I was, to hear his keynote speech, you would be excited about the game of soccer and how it relates to the community and business world. Gladwell gave the soccer, basketball analogy to paint the picture that from a community and business standpoint, focusing on one or two superstars is no longer a winning strategy. In order for our businesses (and our team members) to be more interconnected, we should all stop focusing on making the best player better, and instead focus on making the least best player better. Now, when we talk about sports, we can easily refer to the weakest team or player as the worst team or player, but when it comes to talking about business, the word ‘worst’ is non-existent in my vocabulary, so I’ll refer to the weakest areas as least best.

For a long time, the business world was dominated by big companies like U.S. Steel, IBM, and General Motors, and the focus was to make those big companies even bigger and better. Even our local communities had their own biggest companies, for example, Armstrong World Industries here in Lancaster, PA. According to Gladwell, that is no longer the case. There has been a significant shift in the business landscape. The business world is moving away from the “bigger companies are better” focus and is now being dominated by smaller companies who are taking advantage of local level initiatives to promote their growth. The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry is aware of this trend and brought Gladwell in to explain this shift and focus on building up smaller businesses and communities. Because of this shift in the landscape, our communities and cities are becoming more diversified, and we are becoming less dependent on making the best better, and more dependent on making the smallest larger and stronger. Think about all of the small, family-owned businesses in your city or community. Those small shops are diversifying our business communities, and we rely on their success to boost the success of their big corporate counterparts.

Gladwell’s analogy rang loud and clear when he said, “It matters what the schools are like, it matters what the crime is like, it matters what the restaurants are like, it matters how good the coffee is.” Every little piece of our communities and businesses matter, and in order to strengthen the community or business as a whole, we need to make the weakest link in our communities and businesses stronger.

While Gladwell’s analogy works well in describing a community or business landscape, you can also take this same principle of making the least best better and apply it to business. There are very few companies in the world where just one or two superstars can guarantee the success of the entire company. Sure a few key players can lead their business in the right direction, but the work of all team members is needed to be successful.

Over the past few years we’ve been focusing on various efforts and making numerous investments to make the least best areas of our company better. With a growing organization, comes room for improvement in certain areas, and those areas that need improvement are what we have been focusing on to make Select Security, as a whole, a stronger and better company for the benefit of our customers.