Sport can often be a great foil for enterprise. Aside from the fact that sport is business in its own right the part of sport that gets played out in the arena is meant to remain variable free. Reducing random noise from sporting events is the entire point of the process. No excuses. Just winners and losers! Both teams and individuals will face the same weather conditions, enjoy the same specification equipment, and have to deal with the same umpire, with the same restrictions being placed on both sides.
There are, nevertheless, unavoidable random variables that occur in sport. If we examine a typical game of soccer we can see that important factors that could contribute to random noise might be refereeing errors, unfavourable conditions, and professional injuries before and during the game. Every effort in sport is made to keep the playing fields as level as possible; nevertheless games have repeatedly been won and lost based on these random factors.
So, what of business? There just isn't as much time and energy spent guaranteeing that business is played out on the same kind of level playing field. Regulation takes the place of the rules, while government takes the place of the referee yet these elements can often have just a nascent influence on the way in which business is carried out. Take, for instance, the way financial institutions were engaging in their business activities before 2008 threatening both the economies and their company balance sheets.
At the moment corporations and businesses seem to be finding just about all random variables conspiring against them. Factors such as the rise of the internet customer, the state of the international economy, the development of extensive shopping malls made to centralise pretty much all retail in one place. These are transforming the manner in which business is carried out and the way we think about the goals we're set as well as the money we can make.
Nonetheless, it has to be said, random variables are not nearly the horrible entities they're supposed to be. They generally have us screaming of unfairness but the fact is that if we adjust our mind-set we can use these variables to assist us rather than hinder us.
In professional sport if the referee is an important variable (and he or she definitely is) then we have to acquire strategies to manage that variable for our personal gain. Although it might seem like team managers in sport are trying to hide behind refereeing mistakes whenever they blame umpires for bad calls during a game, the truth is that they are attempting to obtain a competitive advantage over their rivals. Varying weather conditions are a benefit for teams that practise competing in adverse weather conditions, injuries a very good reason to seek out improved coaching techniques and master the art of squad rotation. In reality you won’t find many random factors in sport that cannot be manipulated to someone’s advantage when searching for an edge against a competitor.
If we take that mind-set into business it becomes clear that the organization which finds the best way to master the internet will enjoy an instantaneous competitive advantage. High Streets may well be losing consumers but this gives businesses the impetus to think very carefully about the way in which it addresses its existing customers and whether there are ways to get new ones.
For sport and business alike, random variables may at first seem daunting but if the right attitude is adopted these variables can be used to gain a competitive advantage whist leaving opponents for dust!