“It’s not the X’s and the O’s, but the Jimmys and the Joes that make the difference.”
This quote has been used in college football for years. Finding the original author proved to be impossible. It has been attributed to Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson and many others. Leaders who knew that no matter how brilliant their plays might look on the chalkboard, if they didn’t have the right talent on the field to execute it, the plays wouldn’t work.
I have been blessed in life to work for teams and players that could perform exceptionally well in almost any business. Frankly, they could be successful at any plan, product or initiative. Having an opportunity to serve alongside players like this is incredibly motivating and humbling. They elevate the game of everyone around them. But it is more than just pure energy and commitment. The magic happens when the players fit the game plan AND the plan is the right one for the game being played.
Winning takes combining both great plays and great players. You have to have the right talent in the right place. You can’t ask a 6’4″, 220 pound wide receiver who runs a 4.35/40 to be your left tackle and expect to win. Nor can you ask your 6’5″ 312 pound offensive tackle to go run a post route down the field and expect him to beat the coverage.
As Jim Collins wrote in “Good to Great” (still one of my favorite books of all time). “First who, then what.” You have to have the right people. The bottom line is that if you don’t have the right talent you can’t win. Period. The joy of working with exceptional people is almost indescribable. Their will to win, their effort and intensity, their sheer energy that is exuded all the time. With the right people you know that almost any game plan can work. With the wrong people, no matter how great the plan, it is doomed to failure or mediocrity at very best. Sustainable greatness comes from marrying the right talent to the right plan and then executing relentlessly.
So here’s the question. Do you have the magic mix of the right talent, in the right place, at the right time to win?