Efficiency vs. Sizzle

Jerry Greene, a sports writer for the Orlando Sentinel wrote a very interesting piece on the lack of respect the public generally pays to professional sports teams like the Detroit Pistons and the New Englad Patriots:

But speaking of being disrespected, let’s switch channels to catch a good portion of the second half between the Detroit Pistons and the Miami Heat. The Pistons, of course, are cooling off the Heat in their own pad without breaking a sweat.

And why not? If you haven’t noticed, the Pistons are the defending NBA champions — just as the New England Patriots are two-time defending NFL champs.

But we are chumps, not champs, because we really don’t respect either team. Or, at the most, we acknowledge grudging respect, but we surely don’t like them unless we happen to be from Detroit or Boston.

And why is that? Because we can’t stand efficiency. To be efficient is to be a nerd. Think of the most efficient person in your office. Is he or she going to be the first person you invite to the office party? Or get invited at all?

We love the sizzle.

Look at this NBA Eastern title match that resumes with Game 2 tonight. We love everything about Shaq and have fallen for Dwyane Wade, marveling at his performance in the Heat’s sweeps of New Jersey and Washington. (We paid no attention to the fact the Heat were playing New Jersey and Washington, Eastern Conference playoff teams only because the rules say each conference has to have eight.)

But now the overhyped Heat are playing Detroit. No fat to sizzle on the grill, just lean, mean efficiency. The Pistons don’t razzle-dazzle because it’s not efficient. They defend. They never worry about style points and consider a 92-90 game to be an out-of-control shootout.

The Patriots have been much the same way. Efficient and somewhat boring. We know Tom Brady’s name because he’s a quarterback, but where is he on our QB Love Scale? Brett Favre, Mike Vick, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper and probably that guy from shipping who led our company to victory in the Friday Night Corporate League outrank him.


“Drive for show, putt for dough.” Efficiency isn’t a whole lot of fun. But it works.

I think Greene is really hitting on something that has been pointed out, in a couple of ways, by the authors of my readings, my partners, Mssrs. Panar and Perrin, and I’ve probably spouted off about this a few times, too: leaders aren’t necessarily exciting or overly charismatic. They simply get the job done, putting the team and the effort above the star power. The idea of the un-charismatic leader is straight out of [Good to Great](http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0066620996/mrchompersnet-20?dev-t=0M00SM3RY3CJEJYMF282%26camp=2025%26link_code=xm2). In fact, Collins would say that charisma can be a real liability for leaders, because people tend to follow the leader based on their charsima, and a more effective model of leadership would ensure that people lead themselves still aligned to the principles set out, even when the presence of that leader is gone. With charismatic leaders, according to Collins, people lose their way once the personality is absent.

Now, my good friend Mr. Panar brought up the topic of *inefficiency* yesterday over a turkey sub at Quizno’s. The point Mr. Panar made was that all organizations are inefficient, but in a competitive marketplace, the organization with the least amount of inefficiency will dominate the marketplace, because they can do a competitive effort with fewer resources: people, money, time, other or in combination. In a sole-sourced market, where there’s no competition, there are no drivers for an organization to get efficient.

Why is that? I guess I’d submit that people generally respond to pain. No one likes to admit it. We’d all like to think that we’re pro-active in doing the right things. But in reality, organizations — particularly organizations that don’t have a competitor on their heels — lack the motivation to improve if there’s a culture in place that:

* Lacks an aligned vision
* Lacks a direction
* Is afraid of change