Business Lessons I learnt from Stick Cricket

Stick Cricket is a computer game that is a tad VERY addictive. It’s a game I use as a time killer when I’m travelling, when I’m bored, when I’m supposed to be doing something important, on days ending in ‘Y’… (I said it was addictive).

But in order to justify playing the game during work hours, I have written a blog about it and loosely tried to align it with business. Strangely enough, I think what I came up with is actually quite useful, so here goes.

1. Observe and act

In Stick Cricket, you are the batsman, so it’s all about watching the ball. If you play the ball as it hits the pitch, you’re either not going to score, or you’re going to get out. The trick is to watch the ball as it leaves the bowler’s hand and act accordingly.

Business lesson: Sometimes we’ll do things that just aren’t relevant to what is required, because that’s the way they’ve always been done, or because we’re just flying blindly.

If you first observe (the market place, our customers, our competitors) and then act, you’ll ensure your actions are relevant, and in the right direction.

2. Don’t guess

This is kinda like the first point. If you try to guess what the next ball is going to be (outswinger, inswinger, offside, onside) you can be lucky and score boundaries. Or… you can completely miss the ball and get bowled.

Business lesson: If it isn’t based on evidence, you’re guessing… and if you’re guessing you may get lucky, or you may be missing out on huge opportunities, or spending more than you need to, or… you get the picture.

Knowledge really is power. Learn, research, network.

3. Timing is everything

The basic objective of Stick Cricket is to score runs. The timing of your shot will be the difference between, getting out, scoring nothing or hitting a six. Don’t play too early. Don’t play too late. Play it juuuuuuust riiiiiight.

Business lesson: Just because you have the perfect idea… it may not be the perfect time. Watch for seasonal opportunities, upcoming events, new trends, and see if then is better than now. You’ll sell more umbrellas when it’s raining.

4. Set a target

In the early stages of a Stick Cricket series (you play about 10 games in a series) the target is fairly modest, however if you’re new, it can be an effort. The further you get into the series the more lofty the target. The thing is… a target of say 109 (in 10 overs) seems quite a mountain to climb initially… but by the end of a series you’re setting yourself to get 170, or 190. The small target of 109 that took a real effort, now seems tiny as you reach for the bigger target.

Business lesson: For over 3,000 years of recorded history, people believed that the four-minute-mile was “impossible”. Then in 1954 Roger Bannister proved it was possible. The crazy thing is… in the following 12 months, 300 runners, with the changed belief that is was now possible, also broke the four minute barrier. What might seem impossible now, may just be possible if you believe it is. Set lofty goals, targets, objectives, and then work out a way to achieve them.

5. Break the target into chunks

At the start of each game, you are set a target to reach in 10 overs. 150 runs, divided by 10, means you’ll have to make 15 runs every over (in Stick Cricket terms, this is quite a modest run rate).

This means that if you score only 10 runs in the first over, you’ll need to make up 5 runs somewhere else. It keeps you focused over by over. If you’re behind, you know you may need to play some risky shots. If you’re on track, you can stick to the plan. If you’re ahead, you can really go for it and try to reach the total in less time.

Business lesson: Know where you’re at… Whether it’s a revenue target or a project deadline, have milestones along the way so you know whether you’re ahead of the run-rate or behind. When you have to ramp it up, and when you have some ‘free hits’.

6. Every little bit counts

One run short in one over, one run short in another over… lose the game by one or two runs. Arghhh!!! “If only I hadn’t missed that ball in the 6th over.  I should have watched the ball. I could have hit a boundary. I would have won the game!”

Coulda… shoulda… woulda… didn’t. One miss here and there seems insignificant in the heat of the battle. But when you miss the target by one or two runs at the end, THEN it seems monumental!

Business lesson: There’s a great book called The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson which discusses how the right things done consistently and habitually will create success. On the converse, the wrong things done consistently and habitually will create failure. Then there’s the sometimes good things and sometimes bad things, which just creates stagnation.

Do the right things consistently and reap the rewards.

What other lessons can you draw from your addiction favourite game?