November 23, 2009
Monthly Musings

Are you a Quarterback or

                                   an Offensive Lineman?


I was enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend a while ago as we were talking about management styles.  He encouraged me to write a newsletter and also pointed me toward the timely topic of the first issue.   As the Steelers begin their pursuit of another Super Bowl, we were naturally talking about the team and its prospects for the season.  The discussion led to  the parallels to business.

Most people think about managers as being the quarterbacks of the team.  I maintain that managers are the offensive linemen. 

Let's think about what an offensive lineman does for a living.  His job is to remove impediments so that the glory boys can score.  That is, they protect the quarterback from getting mauled by the defensive linemen and block the middle linebacker so that the running back can get into the secondary.  His work is unheralded but if he doesn't do his job, the team can't score.  The glory boys get the credit and the successful ones are everyone's pick for their fantasy football drafts.  But no one seems to ever give the proper recognition to the offensive linemen who make it all possible. 

Contrast that with the business world where far too frequently, the managers get all the credit when they are not the ones who score. 

First of all, what is the definition of scoring in business?  Isn't it when your customers send you a check?  So when does a customer cut you a check?  It is when the outside salesman gets a client to sign a purchase order.  It is when the carpenters build the 2x4 wall, the mud guys put up the dry wall, and the painters make it look good.   It is when the technical service person helps the customer get rid of the virus.  Customers send checks when the line personnel deliver the goods that they want.  If they don't get the goods, they don't cut the check.

The manager generally doesn't do the work.  It is his job to eliminate any of the impediments that hinder the folks who do.  So the key is to make your line personnel's jobs as easy as possible. 

Unfortunately, in the interest of control, we tend to put constraints on them rather than to make their jobs easier.   Now, anyone who knows me has heard my mantra - "What gets measured gets done."  However, these metrics are more about coordination and effectiveness.  You want everyone on the right page of the playbook.  You want clear understanding of the blocking assignments.  You want the wide receivers to know what route to run.  The running back needs to know where the hole is supposed to be.  And it certainly helps to know that you have 3 yards for a first down instead of 15. 

My challenge is to get you to think about what you are doing that hinders rather than helps your line personnel to deliver the goods to your customers.

Let me know what you think.  Drop me a line at


Jim Harter on Stage at Entrepreneurial Thursdays - December 3rd.



Smooth grooves. Hard-core networking.
Every Thursday at Little E's 949 Liberty Avenue
(above Mahoney's Restaurant)

December 3, 2009
5:30 - 8:30 PM

"Life Balance Entrepreneurs"
Featuring Interviews with:

Co-host Jim Harter, Sigma Pi Consulting (

Bruce Conley, Energy Healing (

Donna BillingsProfessional Certified Coach and Director, Duquesne University School of Leadership and Professional Advancement's Professional Coach Certification Program (

     Bill Frase, Spiritual Dynamics Coaching

Arthur D Wong, Partners Through People (

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT,  (


Sigma Pi Consulting, LLC
1248 Rolling Meadow Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Phone: 412-576-2685
Fax: 954-206-1184

(c) 2009 Sigma Pi Consulting, LLC

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