Sports Alalogies LO16466

Juan P. Robertson (
Fri, 09 Jan 1998 10:41:11 -0800

Replying to LO16451 -- was: "Is it Alive?"

Sports analogies almost always fall short of adequacy in human business or
non-profit organizations for the following reasons:

1. Sports rules are well defined. The environment is circumscribed and
while not all the tactics are clear (the invention of new tactics is one
competitive approach) the objectives in sports are much clearer than for
businesses or non-profit agencies. Excellent sports teams do not have to
redefine the objectives on occasion because the environment (customers,
suppliers, resources and infrastructure) changes. So many roles that good
managers play are not matched by analogous elements in sports teams.

2. Sports teams always play for short terms. Businesses have a 20 or 30
year survival concern and executive reputations rise and fall on how well
the organization prepares for what might be called "an entirely new game".
This is not a big concern in sports.

3. Sports teams are limited in the resources they can "field".
Organizations can acquire entirely new kinds of resources with which to be
competitive. This is such an important consideration for businesses - it
encompasses new technology, new knowledge, and new resources - that a
sports analogy over simplifies what must be done in the business model.

Dr. Juan P. Robertson
University of Washington, Tacoma
Post Office Box 358420
Tacoma, Washington 98402-3100


"Juan P. Robertson" <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>