Tour de France’s Lessons for Human Resources and Management

by Michael Haberman on July 9, 2010 · 0 comments


I am a big fan of the Tour de France. My wife and I had the good fortune to be in France for Lance Armstrong’s historic sixth win. Watching it on TV is not the same, you just don’t get an appreciation for how big of an event it really is. But what you do get to see on TV is the back stories which gives you a much differenct appreciation for how well organized and how efficient the teams conduct their business. As I watched one broadcast I thought “there are some lessons here that management would do well to pay attention to.” Here are some of my thoughts:

  • TALENT matters. Riders are carefully recruited for the value they bring to the team.
  • EVERYONE matters. Everyone plays a role in the success of the team. You start losing members you run the risk of failure.
  • You can handle some loss of talent because of cross training. But too much and you are done.
  • There can only be a small number of “stars.” In fact on a cycling team there really can only be one and the rest of the team is there to make them successful.
  • The team is made up of a variety of talents and skills. You need climbers, you need sprinters.
  • Management team is important. They provide direction, pay attention to strategy and make sure the details are taken care of.
  • Planning is critical. Every detail of the course is paid attention to. They talk about the day at the beginning and they talk about it at the end of the day.
  • Flexibility is critical. You cannot control everyone around you. Someone else crashes you need to be ready. Tire goes flat you need to get it fixed right away. So planning for what may go wrong is important. (Is anyone from BP reading this?)
  • Resources are important. The riders drink 21 bottles of water per race day and eat 400 calories per hour. They have to do that on the bike and someone has to have all that prepared and they have to get it to them at the proper time. You cannot do good work without resources.
  • Rewards are fairly distributed. Money is earned by various successes, typically by the star. But they are evenly distributed because the star would not have gotten there without the team.

These are the lessons I take away from the Tour de France. If you watch what else would you suggest?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Martin Morgan July 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Must have been an amazing experience to see Lance win number six. How about this one – a lot can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit. It ties into your second point that everyone matters.

I am amazed every year at the climbers who will drive the pace at the front of the field for their star in the mountains knowing that they will fall off and struggle to finish the stage.

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working girl July 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

Yes! Stars matter AND the team matters.

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