Playing to win

Last Friday night, my 12-year-old son’s hockey team had its first scrimmage of the year. Walking toward the ice arena, he noticed some players from the opposing team arriving as well. With his pre-teen bravado turned up all the way, he turned to me and said, “I wonder if they know how bad we’re going to crush them.” It could very well have gone that way last season, since my son’s team lost only one game. The key phrase there being “last season.” As it happens, this was not the opposing team’s first scrimmage of the year, and their practice and preparation showed as they dominated with a 7-2 win.

For players not used to losing, it was a humbling experience. And to lose when you’re confident that your team is better can be especially jarring. There’s a reason that sports analogies are so common in business—they’re two sides of the same coin. It’s no fun to lose a game, or a sale, but it’s going to happen.

In business, as in sports, the team with the best players doesn’t always win. All companies, like all sports teams, have their individual superstars. But without the rest of the team, those stars won’t shine. Instead, the team with players who take training seriously, who embrace their role as teammates, who understand the importance of tactics and strategies, and have a coach who challenges and inspires them to be better than the sum of their parts… that’s the team that’s going to be hard to beat.

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This fall, LBM Journal presented two events—the LBM Strategies Conference, which was focused on coaches/owners, and the LBM Sales Master Class, created for players/sales pros. The first is an annual event that continues to grow each year, while the second is an inaugural event—the result of a conversation earlier this year with Rick Davis.

Both events received strong reviews from attendees, which was great. But my big takeaway from both was that there are a lot of smart companies with leaders who understand that the world of construction supply is undergoing tremendous change. To survive and thrive into the future will require more than “good service and quality products.”

One of the biggest changes is a focus of this issue: technology tools. Today’s software solutions are lightyears from what we called state-of-the-art systems even a decade ago. When selected and harnessed correctly, updated technology tools can give companies a decided advantage over the competition. I encourage you to check out the In Depth: Tech Tools feature.

If you’ve got a winning team, and the right players in place, you’re positioned well. Acknowledging current and emerging challenges and providing the training and tools your team needs to tackle those challenges is the best way to ensure that your team keeps on winning in 2020 and beyond.

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