I woke up this morning and landed in the midst of a major. Yep, it’s time for The Open Championship and there’s nothing like turning on the tube at 5:30 and seeing the world’s best golfers looking like…well…ME out there as they struggle with wind, rain, and a very different sort of golf. It’s the world’s oldest major championship and while I know that many of you care not a whit about either golf or sport, I do and I’m driving. Of course, there’s also a business lesson in here too.
If you get the chance to watch a few minutes of The Open this weekend, the first thing you’ll notice is how different the golf course looks from what we see each week on the PGA Tour. You’ll also become aware of the wind which always seems to blow and the constantly changing weather. The fairways and greens are hard-pan – you’ll notice how the balls bounce as if they’d been dropped on tables, not mattresses. They don’t spin and stop. In short, for American pros, this is a completely different game.
This is a great reminder for the rest of us even if we don’t play golf. The real test of our abilities in business is how we perform when conditions change dramatically. Even though we might be a market leader, the advent of new competitors, new technologies, or changing customer bases can destroy our leadership positions if we’re not prepared to play the radically different course. Just ask the folks at MySpace. As I’m watching this morning, it’s very obvious which guys have been practicing hitting a low, boring shot to deal with the wind and who is still trying to hit the same shot they do at home. The scoreboard is making that pretty clear as well.
The only constant is change – I’m sure you’ve heard (and experienced) that before. Preparing to play in different and changing conditions is what makes us complete business people.