Thursday, June 19, 2008


“Gentlemen, this is a football,” so said Vince Lombardi. Who was he talking to? Not a room full of men at a cooking class or boys in high school home economics….but to a group of veteran professional football players. I would say that Vince was interested in fundamentals! You may recall that he was not very fond of the forward pass but instead favored the “4 yards and a cloud of dust” Green Bay sweep. Wow…what a thing of beauty!

Vince Lombardi was a successful coach. Why? Not because of a playbook full of trick plays but because of his insistence on getting the basics right. Blocking and tackling if you will.

I remember back in my high school years (yes I can still remember that far back) one of my friend’s younger brother, I think he was about 8 years old, practicing his technique of spiking the ball. He became a great ball spiker but unfortunately he didn’t get the chance to do it very much because he missed out on learning the fundamentals of the game. He just wasn’t interested. Spiking the ball was more fun. Those fundamentals would have put him in a much better position for ultimate success.

Though Pistol Pete Maravich was known as a magician and showman with a basketball, a little research into his early days shows his disciplined approach to practice and an extraordinary interest in the fundamentals of the game. He practiced dribbling until he could bounce the ball perfectly…from the window of a moving car….with either hand! He practiced pass after pass and shot after shot. Yes, Pete could dribble between his legs while running full speed and he could pass behind his back accurately without looking…but this was only possible after mastering the basics.

Do fundamentals have a place in the business world? Absolutely!

Business persons must define and refine a set of critical success factors for their business operation. The more basic and few in number of these items the better. These critical success factors (or fundamentals) are the things the business absolutely must get right in order to succeed. Care should be taken when identifying these items and systems should be put in place to see that these factors are being executed or performed at the highest quality possible and very consistently.

Have you identified your critical success factors? If not, it may be time to spend a few quiet hours pondering fundamentals.

“Gentlemen, mastering fundamentals makes winners!”

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