Does a Kickoff Matter?

By Doug Ferreira on Jun 27, 2014

Another plane ride filled with random thoughts, and on this flight home I started thinking about football! No surprise, given we are in the middle of the greatest football event on the planet, the World Cup, but it is the currently idle and completely off the radar American version I am thinking about tonight. How did my fickle brain find its way to this topic?  Well, let me explain…

This week I participated in a large scale, organization-wide training initiative and was immediately reminded of some of the successful (and not so successful) initiatives that I have been a part of in the recent past. As I was reflecting, one item that stood out to me was the kickoff. You know what I mean by kickoff – when we gather all the multitudes in one large room and play loud music and have our fearless leader “kickoff” our initiative. So, I asked myself, “Do kickoffs matter?” Is anyone paying attention?  What would happen if we skipped the kickoff and went right in to the apparently required start-slow-it’s-a-marathon-not-a-sprint party? And all of this thinking about kickoffs brought my brain to the gridiron.

So, I made use of inflight wifi (thank you, United) and asked my smartest friend, the internet, if kickoffs matter. I found a blog posting from 2011 that I found really insightful and interesting by a gentleman named Ed Anthony (http://community.advancednflstats.com/2011/01/kickoff-or-receive.html). Ed does some mathematical gymnastics that my English major brain can only dream of to demonstrate that kickoffs actually DO matter in football. Interestingly, they matter in a way that is opposite conventional wisdom in that the kicking team actually wins more often than the receiving team. I won’t bore you with the details, but if you want them, I recommend clicking on the link and giving Ed’s blog a read.

Instead, I want you to think for a moment about your next opportunity to kick off an event, and remember how important the kickoff really is. A good kick off means winning more often, and that is absolutely true when it comes to corporate initiatives, especially sales transformation or sales training initiatives.  Here are some things to think about as you tee-up the ball:

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of a kickoff by waiting until the last minute and jotting your thoughts down on the back of a napkin. Start the planning process at least two weeks in advance.
  • Discuss why this is important to the organization but also why it’s important to the individuals in the audience.
  • Be open about the challenges you expect to face and how you envision the team overcoming them. If you make it sound like this will be easy, people will discount your message.
  • Be sincere and honest. It comes through and people appreciate it.

So, I wish you nothing but the best when kicking off your next initiative. Just listen for the opening whistle, and put that ball deep in the end zone!

Doug Ferreira

Written by Doug Ferreira

Doug Ferreira is passionate about the human side of sales effectiveness. As a coach, consultant and facilitator, Doug has designed and implemented numerous Sales Training & Enablement programs and was selected as a finalist for the 2010 Stevie Award for National Sales Training Manager of the Year. Doug has spoken at industry conferences hosted by ASTD, The Conference Board, and Miller Heiman, and the Corporate Executive Board has featured his work in seminars.

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