Avoiding Business Road Rash
By Luigi Rosabianca of Shield Advisory Group
There is no lack of sporting analogies and Team references to business strategy and success. No “i” in Team; Vince Lombardi quotes in board rooms; sports legend as spokesperson; bla bla bla. Yawn.
One sport is not often seen in ‘Team’ terms. Especially on this side of the Pond. Cycling. I cannot imagine another physical endeavor as physically and emotionally taxing of the human body as a cycling grand tour (Tour de France, Il Giro, la Vuelta)- besides starting one’s own business.
This is where my witty analogy starts to take shape so pay close attention.
There are 8 riders in a cycling Team. Various teams in a road race tend to ride in one tight clump called a peloton so everyone gets the benefit of drafting, except for the guy in the lead, of course. He (or she, as the female tours are gaining popularity) is said to be pulling the pack. The puller tires more quickly even as he sets the pace for everyone else. After a short stint in front, he will move back and let another rider take over. Team leaders (business owners) like Pogacar tend to hang back in these clusters to conserve energy while their teammates take turns out in front. Delegation of Duties.
Each Team member may have a specialty such as climber, sprinter, time trialist (accountant, payroll specialist, lender). This is a really good analogy! These disciplined and professional groups executed wonderfully, putting their rider (again, business owner) in position to win time and again. It seems almost too easy. Sit at the back of a big group of teammates, ride the draft and jump to the glory, right? The race pattern and strategy are much more complex. Industry and Market Conditions. Setting up the train is one of the most difficult things for a team to pull off correctly. It requires a huge level of trust in each other and communication, because the entire peloton’s safety is in your hands. It also demands supreme bike handling skills (individual areas of professional expertise) from each rider as other teams (competitors) are driving their trains at warp speed through often narrow and twisting roads, inconsistent winds, varying weather, and undulating altitudes.
A domestique is a rider who works for the benefit of his or her team and leader, rather than trying to win the race. In French, domestique translates as “servant”. No grand tour winner has ever taken the yellow jersey symbolizing the winner of the Tour de France without the support of strong domestiques.
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