Monday, July 30, 2007

Discovery.... The "secret"

[written in July 19th 2005 - ammended July 27th 2007]

Each year, for the past six, I have been turned on and tuned into the Tour De France. So much so I even started in on a sport I once dreaded and have become mildly proficient while befriending people I once avoided. By next year I should be proficient at pimping my ride for my renovated house with a special Texas Hold Em room. The one proud difference I can claim is that after year three [of seven], I had it figured out. Figured out the sixty four million dollar question “can the Discovery Team win it again?” Yes.

Now, this is not to state that I am the almighty, dismiss the talents and abilities of each cyclist or diminish the super human prowess of one of the greatest cyclist in history but even Lance has cited the key to his success lies in his team. Few can deny the emergence of the American cycling team in an otherwise European dominated sport is largely hinged on Johan Bruneil's understanding of team. Fewer still can deny the fact that when medical team, met survivor team, met marketing team, met cycling team, met marketing team, met coaching team, met marketing team, the entire unit kicked off the North American cycling obsession by ensuring all micro-teams where ‘the best’.

I figured by year three when you would see rogue riders from other groups drafting behind a team of nine team Postal members, they would clue in and speak to their coaches. Something to the effect of “hey, we have so many great European riders, why not choose one guy, surround him with eight great guys, not try to cheat our way to the podium and make it happen?” Every year, we can see very early whether that happened or not. Yes, the 2007 Discovery Team has a team of all stars that were developed on the heels of time, vision and reaching the critical tipping point. The point at which team mates agreed to follow the vision of the leader and the direction of the coach to experience the results of the chemistry. This speaks to the fact great teams are not built overnight.

What is the formula for a great team?
· Usually one very special personality [a franchise player if you will]. Someone with a special vision and charisma that fuels their success. [Lance / George / Yaroslav / Alberto or Levi]
· A knowledgeable and dedicated coach. Someone with a detailed systemized data savvy who can work with, particularly manage, the special personality. [Johan & Chris]
· A great support cast of passionate, team players with perspective and knowledge. Someone with a diversified responsibility who understands their contribution to the ultimate goal. [The remainder of the Discovery Team]

Why are great teams so inconsistent?
· A loss of harmony between the personality and the coach. When these pillars get on separate tracks, the entire dichotomy is ruined. [L.A. Lakers]
· Too many players vying for the franchise player position. The reality is if you a assemble a team of individuals, you still have individuals. [T-Mobile]
· The interference of the marketing initiatives that skew the balance. Almost every single sporting agency has stretched their seasons to capture the remnants of every possible dollar. Teams need as much practice and rest time as they do playing time. [NBA Playoff’s & ratings]

How can you ensure you are supporting your team dynamic?
· Understand the team vision by understanding exactly what the franchise player and the coach expect.
· Know exactly what your role is on the team you play for. Personal or professional.
· Execute unwavering support to your teams objectives until such time where you feel you are not gaining or contributing to the betterment of the movement.
· Move on from your team when you are mentally and emotionally incapable of keeping the pace.

By the time this reaches print, the Tour will have already been won, for the seventh time by a special group of people who’s only challenge is to avoid a large group of individuals recklessly trying to make a name for themselves. Sure they will win individual jerseys, yet team Discovery will win the Tour. .

Thanks team Discovery, for reminding us the simple combination of vision, systems and support team rolled in with meticulous effort leads to the success. Perhaps after your protégé’s step in next year and duplicate the process for Team win #9, the rest of the world will catch up.

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