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Should Startups Operate More Like Sports Teams?

November 26, 2010

Professional sports competition is unique. Success is determined seasonally, teams get a fresh start at the beginning of each season and progress is measured daily, weekly and monthly. With the advent of lean startups and regular iteration, startups might consider adopting certain elements of professional sports.

An example is product sales. If a single season is the target runway for a product’s success, planning can revolve around the duration of that season. Development, launch, marketing and sales are seasonal and planning can be done accordingly. Progress is measured daily, weekly and monthly against predetermined milestones for success and adjustments are made as frequently as necessary.

Product teams can be structured with more emphasis on specialization, like professional sports teams. This might result in larger teams with duties spread over the entire team, as opposed to just a few people with overwhelming responsibilities. This approach fosters team coordination and collaboration in order to achieve goals and results.

The impact of failure could also be mitigated.  A product that failed to gain market acceptance and meaningful traction could be dropped at the end of the season and a fresh start commenced with a new product for the upcoming season.

Just some thoughts about a potential new approach to startups…

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