Everything I Needed to Know About Business Strategy I Learned at a Curling Club

Over the last few years I have really developed a love of Canada’s unofficial national game — Curling. As another season draws to a close, I have come to the realization that my success ( and failures)as a skip on the curling sheet can have the same root causes as failures as leadership in Business. Here are 4 key lessons that hold true on the ice and off.

  1. Remember To Think Ahead

My most disastrous early outings were usually based not on execution errors but making a play that left my opponents with some wonderful opportunities. Lots of rocks in play aren’t necessarily a good thing if they are all in a bad spot. Take time to consider what happens a few steps ahead, dont’ just look at the immediate results

2. Play to your team’s strengths

When faced with options you need to factor in who you have on the journey with you. Sometimes the best shot would be to do a big upweight takeout but you need to assess whether your teammate can actually throw such a shot.

3. Sometimes you need to get another opinion ( sometimes you don’t)

Things often look different from the hack ( where the rock is delivered) than from the house ( where the Skip is calling the game) . Always hear out a teammates suggestions, often they have insights onto the ice behaviour that you get from walking with the rock that you won’t see as you observe in the house. There does however come a time when you commit to the decision and move on. Nothing is worse for a team (and quite frankly more annoying to watch) than a team undergoing endless debate on a shot. A leadership team can suffer the same dilemmas where endless discussion causes inaction and the opportunities that are there evaporate.

4. A Strategy you aren’t able to execute is best not followed

There is a running joke at our curling club that the worst curling you will see is the week after the Briar. Teams have been watching the elite men’s teams and suddenly are calling shots that are impossible both due to the differences in arena ice and more importantly, the level of skill possessed by the majority of recreational curlers. Make sure your plan takes into account what your team can do so you wont’ set yourself up for frustration.

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