Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Perfect Second in Command

I've seen plenty of draft scenarios, and was all ready to throw one at you guys tonight, but then I had to work too late to do the proper research for the trade(s) I would look at for it, so it'll have to wait til tomorrow (daughter has Soccer practice, so maybe Thursday.)

There was a slow-pitch softball interview on the Freep today that I think little nicky did. It was mostly obvious jargon and fluff, but I did like one thing Bill Jr had to say:

“I think our scouts have a much clearer idea now exactly what Rod’s looking for, and I think last year they started to get it. But Rod’s spent a lot of time with (director of college scouting) Scott McEwen and the scouts, as have his coaches, delineating exactly the football skills and the character that he expects and wants, and I think it makes the scouts’ job a lot easier. I think Rod’s first year it was less precise. They didn’t know Rod that well; he didn’t know them. I think this year we’re very prepared.”

He also hinted that although Millen has the final say, Rod has gotten everyone in the organization - Millen included - to buy into his vision. Millen may be in charge, but Rod is the visionary guiding the ship. (Wow. Just had a crazy thought. I'll come back to this below. ) Also, the conjecture I made earlier about Rod having more time with the scouting staff, and them having time to find players that will fit Rod's mentality -- instead of level 10 talent who play at about a 7 due to character, guys who have a 7 talent who play at a 9 level each and every snap. What would you rather have a team full of?? They know what he is looking for now, and have had time to find it.

My interesting thought: I am a very good salesperson, mainly due to being able to communicate complicated concepts to people in ways they will understand. I have also been in my field for quite a while (over 10 years) and have wanted to be in this field since I was 15. So as I went through college, and poured coffee and made copies in a suit and tie at a large insurance agency at $5.15 and hour, I always was looking for ideas and concepts that worked, and ones that didn't, and always looking for new ways to improve on existing ideas or trends. In other words, I am a student of my profession. I love what I do with a passion. But I am also a teacher. I enjoy bringing out the same dedication I have to insurance in others. I've been on many levels, from managing a sales team, to being a one man sole proprietor.

I have a vision of what I think an insurance agency should do, how it should operate, from administration to sales, to advertising -- all levels. But I'm a better second banana. I make things happen -- I can teach, and get others to share my vision. My boss shares my vision. He makes the final call, and he runs the business side of things (corporate meetings, budgets, taxes, etc.) that I do NOT like to do. I want to be out in the trenches talking with customers, and making things go. So while I do not have the final say to do everything as I please, I don't have to. Everyone is one with my vision of our office, and it has led us to great results so far. It started slow (things were pretty messy when I got there), but now things are really rolling. Funny background is, that while my boss is well versed in business and investments, he had been in insurance for only about a year when I came on. I was able to use my knowledge to make his business run better -- to become successful, which is really what he wanted. (Read: Millen -- Marinelli)

When my brother and I were kids, he would have some sort of general idea, and I come up with a way to make the idea happen - expanding it along the way. I think Millen just wants to prove he can build a team that can win - and win big -- And I think Rod shown him a way he can enthusiastically support all out to make it happen. He knew what he wanted, and now believes that Rod has shown him how.

I only give all this story tonight because now I think you can see why I really like coach Rod. I've got a lot of the same personality. I can teach an average salesperson how to be good, and a good one how to be great -- but I can't really do much with a potentially great salesperson who won't listen, won't learn, and tries to coast on natural ability. I can get way more production out of the first two people than I can the third -- because they are willing to listen, and work. (The Lions have been drafting mostly people from the 3rd category before Marinelli -- not it is changing.) That is what Marinelli believes -- and that is what he has taught the scouting department to believe, and what the whole organization is coming to believe. Marinelli doesn't need to have the final say when everyone is buying into what he's selling -- because he won't need to. They will give him what he needs because it has become what they want too.


JJLions20 said...

There is a problem with being the second banana. Everything is ok as long as your building something. The organization is building because your boss is willing to listen and fight for what you want. But at some point the boss moves on. Either they forget who got them to where they are today, and jump to something bigger, or somebody figures out that they are not getting the leadership out of the #1 guy as they are the #2 guy.

Now when the boss goes there is a decision to make. If the decision is to stay in the role of what you do best (the #2 banana), then you get a new boss. Tere are two possibilities here:
1) The new boss may not share the same vision. The new boss most likely will want to show they can lead, and will want to do things differently, because what the old boss did got him the door.
2) The new boss sees you made the old boss successful and is willing to allow you to help make the transition a smooth one. But at some point they will want to lead and implement their own ideas. This is where the fiction and frustration comes in. Everybody lower in the organization views the #2 banana as the leader, and that is hard to handle for the #1 banana.

To sum it up, it simply doesn’t work.

So going back to Matt, Rod and Bill jr.... I thought it was interesting that Bill jr. talked so highly about Marinelli, and how well he is doing. But when the question at the end of the interview came up regarding Millen, he preferred not to answer them because Millen did not report directly to him. Well neither does Marinelli. So at some point Bill Jr. will own this franchise. What does that say about Millen’s job security? I could see when Millen leaves, that Ford could turn to Marinelli (if he continues to have success) and offer him a GM/Coach role. If he turns it down, the new GM would be looking for his own coach. Therefore, Rod will have no choice, he will have to become the #1 Banana.

Anonymous said...

snip -> Ford Jr. expressed strong support for Marinelli, but his comments about Millen were somewhat cooler. Initially, he pushed to have Millen hired after the 1998 season. The attempt fell through. His father hired Millen after the 2000 season. "Matt doesn't report to me," Ford Jr. said. "As a result, it's probably not right that I comment on it."
He [Ford Jr.] spoke glowingly of Marinelli and the culture he is trying to develop.< - end snip

Repeating, coach Marinelli will one day be the GM or GM/Coach of the Detroit Lions.

You can be assured that Bill Jr. has brought up the subject of ridding the Lions of Millen, much the same way he brought up the subject of hiring Millen 2 years before Millen was actually hired.

Bill Sr. likes the competiveness of the game, rather than the business of football. At some point in time he will realize that Millen isn't getting it done, and should we improve, like most of us think we should, Bill Sr. will realize the improvement is because of coach Marinelli and not Millen.

That's why I think this draft is much more critical than in years past. This year's draft (year 3) will be the first one where everyone from the scouts to warroom personnel will be on the same page as far as what "coach Marinelli" is looking for, with Millen just riding coach's coat tails and not putting up any resistance to coach Marinelli's decisions on whom to draft and when.

Bill Sr. will be in that warroom one way or another, and once he realizes that its coach Marinelli calling the shots, and not Millen, a decision will be made not to sign Millen to another extension.

You read it here first.

Go Lions


CHIEFGER139 said...

i posted earlier on mlive that someday rod would become the gm someday and got slammed by everyone-trurthfully its too early to tell-PFT- REALLY slammed both rod and matt this morning calling them plain dumb-but i like what rods doing so far this year.

Deano the Great said...

Great analogy.
Great blog!
Go Lions!!

DetFan1979 said...

jj - I work in a small business, and the only way the boss is moving on is permanently -- and I have insurance for that. (seriously). As for doing "his" job, I never said I couldn't do it, and do it quite well actually. Just not my preference. Should something happen to my boss (at which point I take over as Boss), then I would hire someone to do what he was doing before, minus corporate meetings I must attend, and to pick up the other admin duties I would no longer have time for.

What I was getting at -- and very poorly, I might add, is that the most successful business are usually run by partners with a shared vision, but different skills. Ususally referred to as "mr inside and mr outside" -- Roy and Walt Disney are a perfect example. Walt had the vision, Roy took care of the details the visionary disdains.

If Rod, Matt, and the Lions Organization begin winning -- Bill Jr will NOT replace Millen -- if it's not broke?

I think the Lions are essentially headed to where other franchises are -- Rich McKay is no longer head of player personnel --- but he is still manager of football operations. While many GMs perform both duties, just as many teams have those duties split -- be it overtly, or within the organization. The "GM" is still wheeling deals and calling the shots on draft day -- but he is doing so according to what the personnel guy wants.

I think for the sake of public perception, and for Matt's pride, they are not publicly removing his duties of being in charge of player personnell -- because he has already realized that Rod working with the scouts directly are coming up with much better personnell decisions. So while he is in charge of it still -- he has delegated to Marinelli much of that power.

I also think that if Millen was let go, that Marinelli would be retained -- and given power over player personnel. But I think that is where it would end. I think Bill Jr woudl bring in someone else to be director of football operations to handle the business side and the league side.

It's been proven over and over that HC/GM (all duties) is too much for one man to do.

I was also trying to focus more on the fact that winning organizations have a strong identity as to who they are, where they are going, and how they are going to get there. Everyone understands those three things, and the organization all works in concert to achieve those goals.

I think for the first time in a very, very long time the Lions Organization is all moving in the same direction, with all three of those aspects working in harmony. Of course thing can upset that, but look at Piloi and belichik, Polian and Dungy...and soon to be dungy's replacement in a year or two --

Even when Dungy leaves, the organization is going to stay with his approach (to begin with) because by now it has grown beyond Dungy's vision to be the Indianapolis vision. Just like the Steelers have been for decades, irregardless of who is coach.

I finally see the Lions getting there -- and that consistency and focus will bring about what is needed to make the Lions a competitive, perennial playoff team in the NFL.

(that wasn't all to you JJ -- and I agree with your point on what can happen -- especially in larger companies.)

So if becoming GM of the Lions means doing things the Marinelli way, there are ways to make it happen... and still have everyone leading their part of the team, but still working together -- as the Detroit Lions. Go Lions!!

DetFan1979 said...

Thanks Deano! Appreciate it!