Horse Racing’s Triple Crown – Just like Business Analysts*

June 8, 2010
112 Views

The Belmont horserace, third leg of the USA’s prestigious Triple Crown races, was this past week-end. It made me think that thoroughbred racehorses and business analytic and performance management project leaders have similarities depending on which type they are. (This metaphor is also applicable to professional careers.) There are three types of racehorses: starters, stalkers and deep closers. How are business analytics and performance management methodologies project managers similar?

Starter racehorses directly break to lead from the starting gate. They do not normally win races because their early energy burst takes a toll. Similarly, some project managers, for example of a balanced scorecard project, try to move too fast for the organization. The obstacles that slow the adoption rate for business analytics and performance management methodologies are not technical – they are social. This type of project manager, often ambitious young ones, does not patiently earn buy-in from their organization. Consequently they are likely to come up short of a fully successful implementation of the fully integrated analytics-based performance management framework.

Stalker racehorses .


The Belmont horserace, third leg of the USA’s prestigious Triple Crown races, was this past week-end. It made me think that thoroughbred racehorses and business analytic and performance management project leaders have similarities depending on which type they are. (This metaphor is also applicable to professional careers.) There are three types of racehorses: starters, stalkers and deep closers. How are business analytics and performance management methodologies project managers similar?

Starter racehorses directly break to lead from the starting gate. They do not normally win races because their early energy burst takes a toll. Similarly, some project managers, for example of a balanced scorecard project, try to move too fast for the organization. The obstacles that slow the adoption rate for business analytics and performance management methodologies are not technical – they are social. This type of project manager, often ambitious young ones, does not patiently earn buy-in from their organization. Consequently they are likely to come up short of a fully successful implementation of the fully integrated analytics-based performance management framework.

Stalker racehorses run a few lengths behind the starters until near the end of the race before turning up their speed to the finish line. They often win. Similarly, this type of project manager who paces them self are often successful. They carefully watch what lies ahead of them and how others are reacting to changing conditions. Which horse is changing lanes? Which manager is changing allegiances?

Deep closer racehorses run near the back. After about half way through the race they begin to advance forward weaving through the horses ahead with momentum to pass the somewhat surprised leaders just before the finish line. The 2009 long-shot Kentucky Derby winner, Mind That Bird, ran as a deep closer and just missed winning the Preakness, the second jewel of the horseracing’s famous Triple Crown.

I personally like the deep closer project manager (and career person too). They do take a risk by lying low and being somewhat out of sight, but they understand the finish line is at the end of the race – not in the middle of it. These types of project managers know the virtue of patience. While ahead of them during the race there is much “jockeying” for position, their goal is ultimate success – the fulfillment of helping their organization complete the full vision of the combined business analytics and performance management framework that I passionately write about.

Each of these three types can win. I do not know which type of racehorse wins relatively more than the others. Personally I like deep closers. They are exciting to watch, and when they win you sense they had the perspective of how races and organizations work.

*This is an edited version of my May, 2009 blog titled “How Are Racehorses and Performance Management Implementers Similar?”