Daily Thought 11/18/11: The 2011 Indianapolis Colts

Colts helmet (1978–1994)

Yesterday the Harvard Business Review published an intriguing blog post about the organizational lessons we can learn from the on-field struggles faced by the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts this season. The Colts have been a prime example of consistency and excellence over the past decade and yet this season they find themselves at 0-10. What happened? The simple answer is that their franchise quarterback Peyton Manning is sitting out this season after surgery over the summer.

The HBR post by Ndubuisi Ekekwe cites this as a prime example of the “lone star” model of leadership. Clearly Manning is the reason for the Colts recent success and now without them, they are the worst team in the NFL. Ekekwe argues that this is a model that many organizations in the business world utilize and that they should be cautious:

This “lone star” model in teams doesn’t just apply to sports clubs. It happens in companies all the time, as most are structured in similar ways. And yet, discovering and nurturing talent is vital for success in any organization. No matter how good a strategy is, at the end of the day, talent will be needed to execute it. Great companies need to spend time and resources to develop and reward talent.

Every team has talent and they need to utilize it for success. It is imperative, however, that you do not let your star carry the team on their back alone. In order to sustain success and excellence, your top performers need to be surrounded by other great talent. One of the most interesting notions that Ekekwe suggests is that the “lone star” model may save money in the short run. It is hard to argue, however, that it will save money in the long run when ultimately your team will lose when your “lone star” is unavailable or moves to a new team. In order for your team to win, you need to surround your leader with other leaders.

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3 thoughts on “Daily Thought 11/18/11: The 2011 Indianapolis Colts

  1. Steve says:

    It’s also because they’ve drafted terribly the past few years and have let Bill Polian’s unqualified son run the team into the ground, but yes, losing Peyton Manning sucks.

    Keep up the good writing PJ.

    • Great point Steve. If you think about it, the poor drafting fits the “lone star” concept: you keep your top talent happy, but don’t surround him with many resources. That’s why they have been very good but haven’t won another Super Bowl yet.

      Thank you for the kind words.

  2. […] the group as a team and not looking at just individuals, Beane changed baseball. Think back to the Indianapolis Colts case study a few weeks ago. If their management took this same approach, would Peyton Manning even be a Colt […]

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