One of the CEOs of the Publicis-Omnicom merger, John Wren, commented in the Financial Times on the rapid changes in marketing recently introduced by the digital companies such as Google. The merger is a reaction to those competitive market transformation. In another scenario, I met an IT programmer who related to me why he moved to Orange County, California, when the work in and around Silicon Valley had become too intense. These two scenarios underscore why I am a fan of the “no huddle” offense in American football – football teams — and startups — that move quickly, score quickly in the Bay Area are the only ones that can succeed.
The “no huddle offense” is a great metaphor for this well known tactic used in American football. Football teams that adopt this strategy well prepare their game plan way prior to the match. They anticipate what the opponents will do through careful study and preparation. Each player is well prepared and knows what to do in every expected eventuality. They also give less time to the opposing team to react. And their chance of winning is greatly increased.
Recently, I have been dealing with a couple of startups who represent the antithesis of the “no huddle” tactic. One states that it will attract techies with stock options. One problem, and not a minor one, exists: the company has not been created with a valid stock option program. It will difficult to attract any potential employee with the “vaporware or vapor-company.” The no-huddle would say have all of that prepared before approaching these candidates. It is not justified to waste their time, and reduce the company’s credibility. Time is money and money is time. A lot is wasted by not having the right legal infrastructure. Another company’s CEO states that he has to work on the “details” to move forward. Since the first green light to move forward is dated June 4th, this CEO has taken 2 months to decide what to do what any other hungry competitive player can do in one week. These details can represent the lack of understanding the competitive environment or the lack of focus or capital. In any event, the execution is taking far too much time.
Silicon Valley is a very competitive environment with a large population of smart people, who can get there faster than those who procrastinate or do not prepare beforehand and execute quickly. That is what the ad agencies, Publicis and Omnicom are facing. These ad agencies know that unless they act fast, they will close their doors like Woolworth or Kodak. Business is a game of musical chairs: once all the chairs are gone, there remains one player…and that successful player undeniably executes the “no huddle offense.”