Lose the players, lose the match. Lose the match, lose your job.
The title of this post describes the traditional coaching life cycle. Most recently it was Carlton Football Club and they coach Brett Ratten. They had lost 4 games (one month) and the Melbourne AFL press, as is their wont, turned this into nothing short of an existential crisis.
One of the clichés that is bandied about is the question:
‘Did he lose his players?’
We all understand what that means. A coach can rule by  fear or  by force of personality, or  by sheer weight of success.
Most journeyman coaches rely somewhat on all three of those and must turn up the dial on the one or the other depending on the situation. If they read the situation well, they may survive 3-7 years (extrapolating from a range of answers I found on Google.)
Some of course last longer and some shorter – that is how you create the average.
The key indicator that the journos seem to focus on is whether the players have stopped playing for the coach. (I am not sure whether professional players ever play for a coach the way school-aged kids would.)
But the persistence of the press in propagating that message means that eventually (true or not) people begin to believe and importantly, the administrators begin to act on it.
Effectively the press creates a mental model (a framework of assumptions) for the fans.
It is worth remembering the quip by George Box:
“Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful”.
They are wrong because they are simplifications and they can be useful because we can learn from them.
The journalists create and perpetuate a mental model of what constitutes a successful coach; and that is one where ‘players play for the coach’.
The corollary of that is that once the coach ‘loses’ the players, they will lose the match. Lose enough matches and you eventually lose your job.
What is the connection with business of retail?
We should examine the myths that underpin our thinking (mental models) that govern how we think about business.
Life is tough. Business is tough. And we don’t make it any easier on ourselves by persisting to believe in common myths.
This perverse tendency of ours makes dealing with life a little like playing the whack-a-mole game. As soon as we crush one, another seems to pop up.
We do it to ourselves really, because we never examine our (mis)beliefs with sufficient scrutiny.
Some of the common ‘beliefs’ we have are:
Myth: My team works for me because they want to.
Truth: They work for you because they have to.
Myth: The customer is always right.
Truth: The customer thinks they are right.
Myth: Walk the extra mile.
Truth: You can’t afford to walk the extra mile.
Myth: Customers buy on price alone.
Truth: Your service sucks so bad that you have to resort to price alone to stay in the game.
Myth: I have 20 years experience.
Truth: You have 1 year’s experience 20 times over.
The only way to win this Whack-a-mole game is not to play it.
These are just examples. None of them may actually apply to you – but the point is that we all have these rusted-on assumptions that affect our ability to perform.
If we were honest, we would admit these at least to ourselves. And to the brave ones out there – maybe even as a comment.
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