I recently saw an article in the Wall Street Journal by Kevin Clark titled, “The Philadelphia Eagles’ Personnel Strategy: Targeting College Grads.” As the title suggests, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided that student athletes who graduate from college perform better than those who don’t. The rationale being that those who self-motivate to finish an academic program will generally apply the same motivation to their career. Two of the three teams with the highest number of five-year graduates played in last year’s Super Bowl. The New England Patriots, my favorite perennial powerhouse, has been a league leader in recruiting graduates for years. The New York Giants currently has one of the largest rosters of three-year non-graduates and the team has not shown the greatness of years past.

The Eagles’ decision is clearly strategic. As I’ve written in previous posts, strategies are more focused at what organizations want to become rather than on what they will do. Athletes are traditionally measured by strength, coordination, and agility and the mantra of the football player has always been execution. As a fan, I have watched the football playbook grow in complexity over the years. It’s increasingly important that football players perceive what an opposing team is presenting and adjust their play accordingly. I can easily imagine the Philadelphia coaches sitting around a table discussing how they want their team to be smarter, more perceptive, tactical, and possibly shrewd. Selection and training of players and coaches becomes the critical goal area for this strategy.

Complexity is increasing in most economic sectors; especially manufacturing and healthcare. Business strategies address investments in assets, creation of intellectual property, and human resource requirements. The experience customers receive from a company while buying is most impacted by the employees they encounter directly and indirectly. Strategies that address customer experience always contain adjectives; such as smarter, shrewder, and more perceptive. Yet, because strategic plans are often pursued to support the budgeting and reporting of financials, few plans address these critical adjectives that steer a company from being mediocre to distinctive. What are the adjectives you would use to describe what your company needs to become and how would you go about implementing it?

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