The Value of Domain Expertise: Football By Football

One of the “old chestnuts” I heard when I started to consort with project management professionals was the “functional vs. project skills” chestnut. I used to hear from many project pros that all that was really needed for project leadership success was command of the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK). But as the quote from the PMBOK Guide (3rd edition) in the post suggests, the full PMBOK itself is just one element of what must be understood and used.

To that point, a new football blog — American football, for my international readers — is all-in on the value of “functional” knowledge. Football By Football started at the beginning of the 2014 National Football League season, and it lays out its strategy on the home page:

FootballByFootball.com is a football analysis website providing unique player-writer generated content; owned & operated by experienced football players.

Experience counts immensely—especially in analyzing the world’s most complex sport. A tiny percentage of the writing population has football experience. This is a disparity we aim to change.

Football fans crave insight. So, when the world orders a steak, you don’t butcher a chicken.

A great, but subtle, example of the site’s value is a recent post on the “Best Way To Spend Your Bye Week.” The bye week — a week off during the regular season — is a relatively recent innovation in the NFL schedule. I had no real idea of what the players did during the bye — I’m a family guy, so Chris Snee’s account of home time resonated — but the other two vignettes had a couple of “Aha!” moments.

Drew Bennett noted that many players don’t get time off if they are injured and unavailable for practice. The time off was so alluring that walking wounded would rise from their beds, so:

that final practice before the break begins is a riot. You see guys that were on crutches Monday hobbling through pass rush drills. You may see a receiver with a cracked wrist catching passes. You could see someone who barely made it through a meeting with back pain lined up for conditioning.

Matt Chatham highlighted that one’s itinerary during the bye week is a non-obvious choice. Perhaps there’s more structure now, but as I read his piece I realized that the bye week only started in 1990. I doubt that there was a good idea of what to do with that time off, at least not for a while. After all, any downtime was balanced by the fact that the season would resume — in midseason. The players had to jump right back into their midseason mindsets, or risk a loss (or a string of losses). Every game, practice, and event is magnified in the NFL: there are only 16 games and one or two losses can doom a season. Chatham realized that the way his first approaches to his bye week affected his mindset:

I had teammates who went to Jamaica for a few days, which sounded insane to me with a long day of travel on each end. But I got caught up in the idea that ‘I must be missing something,’ so I compromised and went to a beach resort in Florida. I still felt rushed to get down there and back.

No dice. Never again….

I learned. No reason to put myself through that. A little bit of pleasure that somehow made me feel worse in the end.

As they say, read the whole thing.

What do you do to get a better class of vendor cold-calls?

I posted this the other day on LinkedIn:

Now that I’m the head of IT, I get an impressive array of sales folks calling, emailing, and trying to connect via LinkedIn. I’m more than willing to talk to someone who’s coming in via an introduction, but the cold calls I almost always ignore.

That said, I appreciate that there’s potentially valid information in sales and marketing outreach, and I do find a few of these cold-calls useful or interesting. Sometimes the contact will be from a technology company I’ve heard is doing great things. Sometimes it’s a recruiter who shows some sensitivity or expertise re: our hiring market.

Unfortunately, the overall yield of valid contacts isn’t great. Is there anything that you’ve done to improve that yield?

There are a number of decent comments, but no magic bullet. Any ideas?

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