Get your big girl pants on: NFL Draft Part 1

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Starting quarter...
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Starting quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns looks down field for a pass during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals in the season opener at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

This week I’m talking about the NFL draft.  I know the typical NFL player isn’t your typical employee and that the NFL isn’t always reality but I think there is tons of insight to be gleaned about organizations from watching professional sports.  After all,  these are the guys who are paid millions to draft the right talent and they still get it wrong sometimes! 

This past week the NFL draft was on my TV Thursday, Friday & most of Saturday because my husband is a believer in the perpetually re-building Cleveland Browns.  Now as many of you know, I am a Bears fan, but the Bears draft was pretty normal this year, no surprises, shocks, or screw-ups. But the Browns draft was another story.  At first there was joy at the drafting of Trent Richardson  but then a surprise came with the drafting of  Brandon Weeden, a twenty-eight year old quarterback in the first round. Take some time to re-read that…they drafted a TWENTY-EIGHT year old quarterback in the first round!  This move looks like complete lunacy  to loyal Browns fans everywhere, but the Browns organization felt it was time for a change in the QB position (although they really are tempting fate when you think about Cleveland’s history of quarterbacks).

You see many fans expected Colt McCoy to remain the QB in Cleveland because of his past accomplishments.  He was the QB at the helm when the Browns beat the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots, he showed a lot of potential when the right players were in place.  Unfortunately, due to injuries and player drama the Browns season puttered out, and as the face of the offense McCoy got much of the blame.

Now think about this, one of your organizations leaders has an excellent track record, she landed some great accounts in the past but recently the mojo hasn’t been there.  Maybe some team members have left the company.  Maybe others haven’t been able to put in the same amount of time and effort.  You’ve ended the year with less than stellar results.  The confidence you had in this leader has rapidly dwindled and your customers are getting impatient.

What to do? One option is to cut your losses and the employee, bring in new leadership and hope your customers are patient while the new team gets organized. Another option is to keep your flailing leader, re-organize, get some fresh blood on the team and hope your customers will be patient while the new team gets organized.

Both options have potential catastrophe written all over them but you don’t get paid the big bucks to make easy decisions do you?

What is the right decision? In the case of Colt Mccoy and the Browns, I think they would have done well to evaluate his past performance and the circumstances where it went downhill. After all, you need someone to catch the ball right? You could get Tom Brady in the Browns backfield and he would still be pummeled.  Finally, what about the replacement? If you are unhappy with a person’s performance, why replace them with an unproven entity?

A couple things to keep in mind when working out this kind of thorny decision:

  1. Keep the customer happy – be transparent about your reasoning and rationale for making the change.
  2. Understand the state your customers are in – The Cleveland Browns are in a precarious position when you look at their operating environment: struggling economy in Cleveland, a history of horrible draft picks, and a history of terrible seasons behind them.  This move could be the greatest or another nail in the coffin.

But then again mamma said there would be days like this right? You face the howling crowds regardless the decision you make, you are either a savior or the anti-christ.  Welcome to the world of tough decisions and ambiguous outcomes.  Time to get those big girl pants on!

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday! 

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