Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Genius Behind The NFL Combine

The process of NFL players preparing for the NFL draft is more exciting to some than watching an NFL game.  The NFL Combine is like HR/Recruiting/Talent Management heaven.  NFL Coaches, Recruiters and Talent Managers from every NFL Team gather in an NFL stadium to observe, assess and analyze the top college football athletes trying to make it to the NFL.

It's gets better.  Each collegiate athlete is put into a group by position (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, etc...).  NFL assistant coaches, coordinators and position coaches design drills for each group and coach and evaluate players.  Some drills, such as the 40 yard dash and the 225 lb bench press, are timed and compared for each player creating intense competition and analysis.  As a result NFL Teams get invaluable information on each player such as stats, film, how they handled different coaching styles and how they respond to adversity.  On top of this fans can attend the event, and it's televised.

Trust me it provides some true gems for television.  Check out this 350lb defensive tackle run a 4.87 40 yard dash!

To put that in perspective Marc Tyler, running back from USC, ran a 4.76 40 yard dash.  As you can see from the video below Marc Tyler seems more concerned with getting paid from USC and other distractions than perfecting his craft.

Anyway I digressed, but that video is hilarious.  So what's the lesson for business?  The NFL Combine is like a job fair with only relevant candidates that have a realistic chance of getting hired by your organization.  But it's better than that, it's an assessment center.  And similar to an assessment center, it's not perfect.  It doesn't exactly replicate on the field success, as there are many who've struggled in the combine but gone on to have great careers in the NFL.  But it does give you a snapshot at a person's work ethic and skill set.  More importantly it gives you more information than you would otherwise have without it.

The true genius of the NFL Combine is the fact that fans can attend and it's televised.  Imagine if your company's consumers, customers and investors were allowed to attend job fairs, observe assessment centers and more importantly, wait for it, provide feedback on the candidates you were selecting.  Now imagine if those job fairs and assessment centers were recorded and could be watched on a DVD.  If that were the case I guarantee you would have an aligned organization from top to bottom, inside and outside, and you would quickly and effectively respond to changes and expectations in the environment.

The NFL is driven by competition, and winning equals more ticket sales, jersey sales and television deals.  Unlike business, it's pretty easy in sports to stay aligned to your organization's goals.  If not players, coaches and ownership get replaced.  It's a "what have you done for me lately" situation.  Business is more complicated.  Government, society, lawyers, unions, human resources and managers make a lot of excuses as to why competition can't be the driving force in business.  I'm not saying I disagree, but as a result of the skepticism towards competition, things get misaligned.

Take a lesson from the NFL Combine and realign your organization.

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