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Its January, which means that the NFL post-season is upon us. NFL teams have been working since August to win a spot in the post-season. NFL teams are all about winning.

In this series of blogs, I am going to use the metaphor of a winning football team to describe how you can set your organization up to win in 2010. We will walk through five steps to your organization’s success this year.

1. Master Your Game

The first step to organizational success is to achieve mastery at your game. This goes deeper than “What business are we in?” It goes to “How do we compete? How do we make our money?”

Answer this question, “What are the drivers of your organization?” Some common drivers are: sales, process technology, raw material procurement, distribution efficiency, new product development, and customer service. Knowing and focusing on the drivers in your organization is critical because the drivers create the need for the tools to succeed. Your “players” win the game by using the tools your ERP software system provides.

In times of uncertainty, a sales-driven company relies on the certainty that it will get more than its share of the available sales in the market because of its superior sales force. The sales force uses tools that increase their effectiveness. A raw material driven company, that uses a scarce or expensive raw material to create its product, depends on tools that help it to procure the material advantageously.

It is critical to objectively verify your company’s drivers and then take an unflinching inventory of the tools that support your drivers. Look for ideas and opportunities to improve or add to your tools inventory.

Every company has an internal set of beliefs about its strengths and weaknesses, but these are not always correct. We have a manufacturing client that is a process technology leader in its industry, but a review of their customers’ values revealed that they buy from our client because of an excellent distribution system. Confirming your drivers with external information is an essential step in knowing and focusing on them. It helps to identify the kind of tools that will promote winning for your team.

Develop a list of the new tools that you want this year, not because they are affordable or “cool.” Identify and acquire the new tools because they will help your team win through mastery of your game. Remember that new tools will mean new processes and change for your organization.

Next time: 2. The Goal Line