Like all other businesses, the goal of every MSP is (or should be) success – strong revenues, healthy profit margins, sustainable growth, happy clients. But achieving success does not mean the end of potential dangers for MSPs. Indeed, success can bring its own set of dangers along, as evidenced by the recent collapse of the Boston Red Sox 2011 season (before any angry Sox fans write comments, I'm a lifelong Massachusetts resident and passionate Red Sox supporter). Here are three lessons from the Red Sox Collapse of 2011.
Buoyed by their two World Series wins in the past seven years, the Red Sox as an organization became complacent, assumed they could win by showing up, and instead experienced a painful and embarrassing end-of-season decline that is still producing repercussions for management and players. Following are three lessons about the potential pitfalls of success MSPs can learn from the Red Sox.
1. You Can’t Always Buy VictoryA key to the success of the Red Sox in recent years has been a willingness to spend big money on big name players. Year in and year out, the Sox have one of the highest payrolls in baseball. But this year, oversized egos, injuries, a lack of team chemistry, and playing styles that did not translate to Fenway Park resulted in some very high-quality talent producing some very low-quality results.
Similarly, MSPs should not always assume that the clients with the biggest names or projects (and even in the SMB sector, there are “superstars”) will offer the best dividends. A client with a larger project or more well-known name may demand more time or have more expectations than other clients. Look beyond the dollar signs to evaluate every aspect of a potential client before agreeing to provide managed services. A lower-maintenance client with a slightly smaller project scope may prove more beneficial to your interests and profitability in the long run.
2. Past Performance Does Not Guarantee Future SuccessAfter decades of futility, the Red Sox got on a roll of success that began with their first World Series win in 2004 and continued in varying degrees until this September, including another World Series win and three playoff appearances. The team got to the point it assumed that as long as management stayed in place and high-priced free agents were brought in, it would be a World Series contender on an annual basis.
What worked in 2004, 2007 or even yesterday is not guaranteed to work today. Business and technology strategies that have brought you success for years may one day no longer fit the marketplace. Stay vigilant and never assume that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sometimes once it’s broke, it’s beyond repair.
3. Resist the Fried Chicken and BeerAmong the more colorful revelations about the failed 2011 season which have come out is that certain Red Sox pitchers had a habit of drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games. Joking aside, this showed a serious lapse of concentration and effort which showed up in the late season performance of said pitchers.
When things are going good, it’s easy to slack off and bend a few rules. For MSPs, “fried chicken and beer” could mean not following up with clients until they complain about something, or not testing the reliability of your services delivery as much. Remember that eating fried chicken and beer is what people (and companies do) after they have stopped trying to achieve success and started taking it for granted.