When the Tour De France is on, you know that it’s the time of the year to go on vacation. As hopefully you will do so, I will not bomb you with extensive blog posts during the next couple of weeks, but with just a few short thoughts that you may or may not reflect on when having a cocktail on the beach.
So the Tour De France has started, and last Sunday saw a remarkable ninth stage: A group of five cyclists broke away, one of them Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland. After passing over a couple of mountains, it was clear that Hoogerland would capture the dotted jersey of the best climber, so he could concentrate on the last few kilometers of the day and the fight for winning the stage. He looked in good shape and was one of the favorites to win, when suddenly a French TV car tried to avoid a tree on the left hand side of the road and cut into rider Juan Antonio Flecha, who then ran into Hoogerland, making the latter fall of his bike into a barbed wire fence. If you haven’t seen the crash, the video is here.
There are tons of escort vehicles at the Tour De France, some from TV and radio, some from the teams, some from tour director and medical service. It makes sense to have them, as they support the tour and enhance the “product”. However, when they harm the cyclists, there’s something going badly wrong.
I just wondered about the escort vehicles we have in our organizations. Those parts of it that are not the “riders”, i.e. those that are not operational in selling, production, etc.
We have so many units that support the business. From finance to strategy, from HR to legal. Yet I have the feeling that they interfere with the “riders” a lot more often then escort vehicles at the Tour De France.
It’s when supporting units make it more complicated to sell for sales. It’s when supporting units come up with ideas that are far from what the market is looking for. It’s when supporting units don’t support but look for support instead.
Hoogerland fought on and even finished the stage. His result was bad as he came in 17 minutes after the other riders, and he was hurt. But he carried on. Just like sales reps carry on and sell again despite being hit by someone who was originally meant to support him.
Things won’t change this way. Not for Hoogerland. Not for you. And results will continue to be worse than they could, and people will be hurt, yet not physically.
Do we really need that many escort vehicles? And how can we make sure that those that are there really support instead of hindering?