Are You Making Your Blocks?

Employers and employees must face the fact that they are not executing the new fundamentals of business.

If the offensive guard misses his block on a pass play, the quarterback will be sacked. Football is a fairly straightforward game: the team that blocks and tackles better usually wins. Sure, there are other variables involved but, for the most part, the team that consistently and more effectively executes the basics wins the game. It's the same in business: the firm that consistently and more effectively executes the basics nets the superior profit.

If the sales rep has the professional discipline to keep calling prospects back, he can get the deal. If the project manager (PM) leads the team attentively throughout the job, the outcome will be successful and the organization will make money. Conversely, if the sales rep is lazy and prefers playing golf to closing a deal, and if the PM doesn't conscientiously follow the work of his team, all bets are off. Profit becomes variable and the team will lose. Construction is an incredibly unique business. You are constantly faced with different projects working with different teams in different conditions. Yet the secret to success is

This principle of proper blocking and tackling extends to the individual. The secrets of success are actually well-known. Recent research confirms that proper practice does, in fact, make perfect. The best athletes, musicians, sales people, and all truly successful people know that hard work is the path to success. They may be on this path for years but the result of consistent execution of the basics is predictable: they rise to the top of their profession. They succeed. There are countless self-help books out there. There are shelves full of time management books. All the information you need to win - in life and business - is out there. You can find it on the internet in milliseconds. But simply calling up the data isn't going to give you the win. You must actually put the principles into play. This takes discipline and hard work. You must train yourself to implement the fundamentals the books tell you to. In other words, you must make your blocks.

Over the years, football has become more complex. In the old days, a receiver could just run a route, and a back could just run the ball. Now, all players on offense (not just the quarterback) must read the defense so they can modify their execution. The construction world has mirrored these changes, keeping a close eye on the competition and adjusting their next moves accordingly. Yet, I often hear employees complain about the added work they must do in a position they have had for years. "We never had to do this before," they argue.

What they fail to acknowledge is that the game has changed. Today's market demands a higher quality product in a shorter amount of time for a highly competitive price. But, some folks want to continue to do what they have always done. And it's not just the workers who are out-of-step with the times. Managers gripe about the lack of qualified labor - but they use the same recruiting tactics to select from the same talent pool, and they train new employees in the same way they did ten and twenty years ago.

I repeat: the game has changed. Employers and employees must face the fact that they are not executing the new fundamentals of business. Then, they can take steps to change the game plan. When I look at businesses competing in the same industry, I am amazed by the differences in performance between them. These differences almost always center on people and culture. Rarely are they based on systems and processes. In fact, systems and processes often look very similar across companies in the same industry. So why the different results? Winning companies use the systems and execute the game plan with passion! They block and tackle! Do you?

Wally Adamchik is the President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting, a national leadership consulting firm based in Raleigh, NC. You can visit the website at or email him at [email protected]. His new book is No Yelling ( is available online.