Monday, June 11, 2018
The arrival of new lifting gear testing equipment proves the value of progression and percentage gains, says Steve Hutin, the managing director of Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd.
At the risk of prompting some jibes about the lack of Wales’s participation, I’m going to reference a big football tournament that takes place in Russia this summer. I’m also going to explain how, in sport and business, it’s now more important than ever before to be multifaceted in approach.
When the winners of this year’s World Cup lift the trophy on 15 July, the picture will look very different to when, say, England won the quadrennial international football tournament back in 1966. The rules of the game are broadly the same and in both eras the successful players are among the best in the land, at the top of their profession, but football has drastically altered over time to the point that footage of bygone days make it look like a different sport.
Players now know their way around a gym as well as they do a training pitch; most are students of sports science; they understand the importance of recovery; alcohol and fatty foods are, in the main, off limits; and many spend hours, even before a match, doing their hair. Television coverage, sponsorship, and coaching have changed too. The presentation of the trophy will be choreographed and there’ll likely be pyrotechnics and sound effects when the captain raises the famous cup above his head.
I’m not comparing generations or saying one is better than the other. In many ways, the game has regressed in my opinion, particularly in terms of the extent to which the tackle is leaving the sport and the regularity with which players dive around to unfairly win free-kicks and get opponents booked. It’s too easy to get a yellow card these days and the upcoming tournament could well be blighted by suspensions for meaningless infringements. My point is that times change and only by adapting can a sports team stand the test of time. Play by the old rules and practice traditional theories, and forget about winning anything.
It’s the same in business. One doesn’t need to go back as far as 1966 to remember when mobile phones, laptops, and email were non-existent. The goals of business in terms of turnover and profit were the same as they are today but getting there is completely altered. Imagine a place of work without such systems and other technologies today. Again, I’ll add that it isn’t always better to send an email in place of a telephone or face-to-face conversation but whether we like it or not, accepting such progress is the only way to succeed.
Additionally, sport and business have become more about percentage gains. All participating teams in the World Cup, to a larger or lesser extent, will have spent qualification, warm-up games, and training sessions trying to add 1% here and 0.5% there, which might make the difference at 0-0 in the 89th minute of a quarter-final. It may be a power plate session in the gym; a heart-monitoring device used during training; a recovery method; or something else. Successful companies are doing the same, looking at equipment, training, and recruitment methods that can give them the all-important edge over the competition.
I was at our Warrington facility in the UK’s northwest the other day, looking at some newly installed testing equipment (we recently took delivery of a test bed and jack tester), which is a case in point. Ask me if I’d take a company with the biggest and best facilities versus another with the best people, and I’d take the latter every time. However, even the best team is useless without equipment, systems, structures, and mentoring. A football team without a coach, physio, or gameplan won’t win a tournament, or even a game. They might draw a lot—like Wales!
However, I still see and hear of businesses that are so steadfastly loyal to traditional equipment and practices that it’s hampering their progress in the modern world. I believe in good old-fashioned values and practices in many ways, but it’s important to combine them with new age technologies and concepts. Hard work, team spirit, skill, and good fortune will all be key ingredients to winning the World Cup in 2018 as they were in 1966, but not alone. The principles of lifting and rigging haven’t changed much over the same period of time but so much else has that the percentage gains that can be made here and there really add up.
Look at one’s business practices and ask direct questions: have you turned your nose up at a training method without giving it a chance? Could investment in new machines enhance your productivity and profitability? Is the accounting software up to date? What department could be more efficient with an upgrade to the hardware or software they use? Does the production team need new tools? Would updated satellite navigation systems help drivers deliver product in a more timely and safer fashion? Is a paper map really the best option? Would a state-of-the-art fleet management system for the forklift trucks be of benefit?
What if the competition answered all of these questions a year ago?
Despite Wales’s absence, it’ll be an interesting World Cup, possibly one of the most open we’ve seen for a while. I wouldn’t be surprised if Argentina come close, led by arguably the best player of this generation, Lionel Messi. Only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo could otherwise claim the accolade. It will likely be the last time either plays in a World Cup and I wonder if the stage is set, particularly for 30-year-old Messi to bow out with a big tournament. Regardless, both epitomise the spirit with which success is earned—in sport and business.
There are modern day coaches, like Samuel Allardyce, for example, who might use technology and science to their advantage, yet they apply it negatively. Ok, Messi and Ronaldo have ability far greater than anyone Big Sam has managed, but their work ethic and constantly forward-thinking approach is an inspiration. Watch either of them get the ball and they’re thinking of the fastest way they can hurt the other team and create a moment that leads to a goal. A conservative, defensive tactic is sometimes required but too much emphasis is placed upon it, in all walks of life.
What’s your plan when the ball is at your feet?
Thank you for reading.
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd