Monday, 19 September 2016

Cross-Pollinating Sport and Business

There are people who think that sport is not like business. However, as someone who teaches in both areas, I can say that sport is BIG business.

It is one of the remaining growth areas for broadcast media, sponsorship, and advertising. Sport is becoming professionalised at all levels, yet retains elements of social and ethical practice.

It is a consumable that can actually do us good as individuals, as communities, and as nations.

Business learns from on-field sport. For example, an HBR emailer, in "Prepare for Tough Business Situations as You’d Practice a Sport" (08 April 2016), said:
One key tenet of coaching professional sports is preparing people in the most realistic contexts possible. For example, a coach might pour water on practice balls to prepare a team for wet gameday weather. You can apply similar thinking to business situations. For example, you might work on rehearsing your pitch to potential VCs in front of colleagues you’ve asked to pepper you with difficult questions. You might create situations where a VC is late to the meeting — or is rushing you to finish your pitch. You might do the session in a setting that mimics what you’ll likely encounter in the real world, whether that’s a noisy coffee shop or an overheated conference room. By sensitizing yourself to the actual challenges you’ll face, you’ll become more adaptable and have a far greater chance of success.
Practice - rehearsal - is a key element in professional development, and practice is more effective if you do it in the most realistic way you can. Fire-fighters, police, paramedics, pilots, musicians and soldiers rehearse realistically. The more real we can make our rehearsal, the better we will deliver when need to.

Surprisingly though, off-field sport learns from business, usually several years after business has learned from on-field sport. Those of us who are teaching in this area are trying to short-circuit the learning from on-field practice to off-field. We are doing that with co-operative learning, where students go into sports organisations to apply their learning directly in projects that they are delivering.

What is now happening at my institution is that we are about to start teaching the same way in our business school.

Time to pick up the pace.


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