Putting the ‘Live’ into Delivery

May 17, 2009

The DeliveryDemon has recently had the good fortune to spend time with some world class athletes. They are at the very top of a highly demanding minority sport and the pressure to deliver is intense.

  • In competition there is no second chance to deliver the goods. Just a little less than top performance on the day, and the medal goes to someone else.
  • Delivery in competition depends on rigorous training and other preparation prior to competition. It’s not just a one-day effort.
  • There’s a lot of risk management to consider – highly trained athletes operate on the fine line between top fitness and injury, where a brief misjudgement can lead to weeks of layoff.
  • It’s impossible to operate at competition level all the time, and athletes need a cycle of preparation, peak performance, and relaxation / recuperation.

There’s another aspect of minority sports where delivery comes into play. In the absence of commercial sponsorhips, athletes may fund their training by coaching others. Some may branch out into the production of specialist clothing and equipment for their sports. Since minority sports by their nature have a limited number of participants, the coach or equipment supplier will become known quite quickly. They will be judged both by the quality of what they sell, and their sporting achievements. Other participants will quickly become aware of any new or innovative products which they introduce to the marketplace. Equally, news of poor delivery is quickly passed around.

There is a surprising number of well-run small businesses in this field. Because the reputations of the business and its owner are intertwined, the athlete is under intense pressure to deliver quality in competitive results and quality in goods and services. There is also a need to balance peaks of performance with periods which allow for both physical recovery and product development. The athlette lives constantly with a focus on delivery.

The principles which apply to delivery by these micro businesses are equally applicable to large scale commercial enterprises. However, the complexity of large organisations means that they often lose this single-minded focus on customer delivery. Large organisations often look to high profile sportsmen to deliver training on individual motivation. They would do well to look closely at the less well-funded areas of sport. These microbusinesses provide a delivery benchmark which many large companies are incapable of equalling.