Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Legend and Legacy of Joe Jackson Gibbs

Joe Gibbs let it be known at his press conference yesterday that he was open to a contract extension that would keep him involved with the Redskins beyond his contract period. Gibbs five year contract ends after the 2008 season.

That answers one question, whether Gibbs would step down after this sad and ugly season. [I can't imagine that Daniel Snyder would fire him.]

It introduces another. What is Joe Gibbs' legacy in his second go-round?

When you are the coach, legacy is the same as wins and losses. But, Gibbs came out of retirement to be the turnaround agent. He said he wanted to restore the Redskins as a winning franchise.

That's a business goal. I'm a business guy who has been thinking about Gibbs legacy. Because of my background, I see Gibbs' larger role as a business management issue. That's how I, or rather that meek, mild-mannered reporter who occupies this space, will assess Gibbs over the off-season.

This post is to capture some ideas for the framework of the evaluation. Successful executives work towards building sustainable competitive advantage. Did the Joe Gibbs - Daniel Snyder make appropriate organizational decisions that will build an organizational advantage that will survive Gibbs departure?

Here are my first thoughts for how to assess Gibbs' legacy:

Impact on the owner -- Daniel Snyder is an earnest, eager, aggressive young owner committed to making the Redskins a winner. He knows how to make money. He knows how to promote a business. His football instincts are impaired. His approach to building winning teams is bass-ackwards. How has Joe Gibbs improved Snyder's approach?

Sourcing talent -- Early in his ownership, Snyder was aggressive sourcing "proven talent" to the roster, with "proven" being aging players on the downside of their careers cashing in on a lucrative last contract. You know how that worked.

If Snyder dimly and slowly perceived that a famous name was no substitute for a scouting report, what has Gibbs done to install a better system?

Valuing talent -- Football free agency tends to overvalue players who are changing teams. The Redskins tend to have minimal salary cap room, forcing them to an annual ritual of renegotiating player contracts. Every team does this, but the Skins have made it a high art form. They are cleverer at managing the cap than building a championship roster.

[I think the Skins have done well on talent valuation. The meek, mild-mannered guy will write something about that for Hog Heaven in the next day or so.]

Succession -- Gibbs is leaving someday. How much disruption will be triggered by his leaving? Succession planning is one of the key things organizational leaders must do well to ensure survival.

That's the approach. It's only a start. I'll refine the approach as the season winds down and write it up in a series between January and the Draft.

Full Disclosure: I am a Joe Gibbs fan. I see the team as better off for his being here. Before Gibbs returned, the Redskins were trying to foist Trung Canidate and Danny Weurffel on us. We are way beyond that. I am not a Gibbs apologist who thinks the team president is above criticism. My loyalty, however, is to the team, so I'm going for a balanced assessment.

Most of you know that I'm posting here on a weekly basis during the season. My content is posted over at Hog Heaven. So check over there for the freshest content. Look here for deeper thoughts, or crib notes of stories being developed for Hog Heaven.

No comments: