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"Touch, Pause, Engage" - a lesson for business from Rugby Union

With the Rugby Union World Cup this year in England, I thought that a blog entry with a rugby flavor would be appropriate.



"I prefer rugby to soccer. I enjoy the violence in rugby, except when they start biting each other's ears off." - Elizabeth Taylor (1972)

In the game of Rugby Union, play is restarted after a minor infraction by a scrum. During the scrum the forward pack of 8 players will engage with their opposing pack to win the ball. These forward packs weigh close to 2000 lbs (~ 900 kgs), and so these scrums are a test of power and strength of these players, as they compete to win the ball back for their teams.  Before 2007, there were not may rules around how these packs engaged, resulting in many serious spinal injuries due to collapsed scums, and the violence of the contact. In 2007, the rule changed to require that each pack 'crouch', 'touch', and 'pause', before they 'engage', as the referee calls these instructions out.  Crouching allows the packs to correctly 'bind' and set up for the scrum. At 'touch', the front row players reach out and touch the opposing line - this ensures that they are at the correct distance before engaging.  'Pause' ensures that they wait for referee to control when the packs engage.



How does this translate to your business?  We all love sports analogies, and so I am suggesting this rugby analogy to help you with your next Business Planning cycle.  The three phases of strategic Marketing Plan are Analyze, Plan and Execute.  And so this example from the sport of Rugby provides a framework around which you can build a Marketing Strategy for engaging your competition.


Touch/ Analyze
  • Know your market and your competition's products/ services, pricing arrangements and terms, promotional campaigns, people and organization. 
  • Gather feedback from customers, partners and others in your sales teams.  Know the opposition's 'weight' in your market.
  • Know the gap between you and your competitors.  What differentiates you? What are your relative strengths and weaknesses?


Pause/ Plan
  • Develop a strategy and tactical plan for engaging with your competition.
  • Assess risks and opportunities in the competitive environment.
  • Make sure that your team is prepared and aligned on your plan. Align individual targets your market strategy.  Is the team well 'bound', and set to execute?

Engage/ Execute
  • Execute the plan as a team.
  • Adjust on the fly to remain aligned with your strategic objectives.
  • Win the ball!


Engage!

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