What March Madness Can Teach Us About Business

What March Madness Can Teach Us About Business

The annals of history are full of stories about rivals squaring off against each other for an ultimate showdown. It makes for excellent basketball in March or for Sundays and Monday nights in the Fall.

This article is largely based upon a March 16, 2016 article by Daniel Roberts at Yahoo Finance, “What March Madness Can Teach Us About Business.”

Roberts talks about the psychology around why the public loves the “storied rivals” and why we cheer for the “plucky underdogs” each tournament. The idea of an upset is what makes March Madness so exciting. Roberts goes on to explain why the same theory applies to corporate America.

Who are some of the greatest sports rivals of all time? Who are some of the greatest corporate rivals?

In the article Jon Wertheim, Executive Editor of Sports Illustrated and co-author of “Your Brain on Sports” was quoted as saying:

“In sports, athletes perform better when they have a rival, they will run faster when there’s someone next to them…the same is true in finance, same true is politics. Steve Jobs always wanted to make sure his employees had a targeted opponent in mind, and that was smart.”

The NCAA March madness tournament is historically filled with great rivalries such as North Carolina v. Duke, Louisville v. Kentucky, UCLA v. Kentucky, UCLA v. North Carolina, Michigan v. Michigan State. As you know, many of these teams have been knocked out already.

In the business world, Wertheim describes how not long before Jobs died that he declared a “holy war with Google” over who would win the battle over the growing mobility market. He illustrated that having a menacing rival is a powerful motivator and a mission for companies and their troops. Jobs was motivating his teams by creating a rivalry.

“Rivalries have an impact on the way a brand is perceived, but they can change things internally. They can compel us to work harder and bring out the best in a workforce.”

Another interesting point that Wertheim draws from March Madness is how much that we like seeing the Number 1 seeds get upset. Yet, when we put our money down that we tend to over bet on the favorites…much like we do on the blue chips in the stock market. He said we say we love start-ups, but in the end we go with the tried and true.

Both HP and Apple were start-ups that were born out of a garage. Airbnb started out of a coffee shop. All started as the little guy with compelling longshot odds. These types of start-ups started with rivalries with these type of stories chronicled in the Malcolm Gladwell book “David and Goliath.”

So are there rivalries in the PEO industry? I am sure there are. Who would they be? Possibly ADP v. Paychex? Perhaps TriNet v. Insperity? At a regional level the list could go on and on.

We know that competition makes athletes perform better. We know that competition between companies and brands stimulate more innovation and produce better products. We would like to believe that primaries have historically made stronger candidates.

My question to you is “who is your rival?” What PEO in your market provides you with the strongest competition? It could be a similar sized and comparable competitor. It could be a “David and Goliath” situation.

Whichever the case it may be, let the intense competition of March Madness be a source of inspiration to the manner which you can drive your business and your teams to seek a competitive advantage to your strongest rival!

If you have any comments or would like to discuss this article or commiserate on our mutually busted brackets, please do not hesitate to call or email me at dan@mchenryconsulting.net.

Note: Most of this article was taken directly and is exact content from the content of the following links: