3 Reasons Your March Madness Bracket and Your Operations Team Are Awful

sad march

It is officially March Madness, so the countdown begins till you tear up your awful bracket. Where did it all go wrong? You read the scouting reports, paid the extra couple of bucks for ESPN Insider and even took the time to ask the intern Jake who he's got. Jake, who played college ball, knows all. Yet, Monday morning you find yourself at the bottom of the standings. Filling out your bracket and staffing your operations team can involve many of the same challenges and pitfalls. Here are 3 reasons your bracket & your operations team are awful:

#1: Sexy Picks Frequently Don't Pan Out

Just like a #1 seeded team, it's easy to fall in love with an operations applicant on paper. Resums can be filled with highlights that can distract and blind you: incredible academic pedigree, previous positions at companies you respect or time spent working with colleagues you admire. There can be 1,000 reasons to hire someone, but one reason why they would be a horrible hire. If there's 1% doubt, that candidate is out (ode to Don King).

#2: Never Underestimate Strong Leadership

I like to call this the "Izzo Factor". There is a reason why Michigan State, led by March Madness guru Tom Izzo, are always a Final Four threat. Tom Izzo is an incredible leader and basketball coach known for exceeding expectations and getting the absolute most out of his teams. Look for examples of leadership in the operational hires you make. Beware those that don't play well with others. Remember, a good operational hire can have a positive effect on everyone around them and a bad hire can destroy your entire business from within.

#3: You Picked The Final Four, But Ignored Everything Else

As with operations, March Madness is essentially a puzzle. You can easily focus solely on the Final Four, but you would be making a fatal error in ignoring the journey leading up to the championship. Every single person chosen for your operations team must represent a specific piece of the puzzle. Everyone can't be the scorer. You have to get role players too. If you approach every hiring and staffing decision with extreme precision and careful thought, you will be significantly better off.

Unlike your March Madness bracket, you can adapt and change your operations team continuously. Be aware of and respect the process. Growing businesses like Uber, ZEFR, Savings.com and ScoreBig interview operations applicants for as long as 3 hours at a time. Their goal is to expose any possible doubt and examine how that applicant would fit within their current team framework.

Culture is king. Don't lose your culture because you've made a poor pick.

Michael Buenaventura

March 22, 2013