CHANGE, CHAOS, AND THE GAMES
As I’m writing this, the O2 team is packing our bags for Madison, Wisconsin, to show our support at the CrossFit Games. Given the amazing reception we received last year and the number of great athletes we were able to meet, we’re beyond pumped. But, just like everyone in the CrossFit world, some of my excitement comes from just how different these games are going to be. I don’t have a crystal ball to predict whether the changes from regional to sanctionals will ultimately be good or bad, but I feel confident in saying the Games won’t be the same. Just the sheer number of competitors from all over the globe is going to make things interesting. We’re going to have athletes from far flung places like Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka, and Qatar this year — many who wouldn’t have had a chance to shine under the old regional model. In this sense, the Games seem to be more in line with CrossFit’s message of promoting global fitness. But some will see the sheer number of competitors as an issue. Keeping track of 300+ athletes will be impossible, and we’ll have chaos, especially on this first attempt. But is that a reason to give up and go back to the old way of doing things? I don’t think so. I don’t know many success stories that aren’t rooted in innovation. In fact, I’ve never been told, “This person did things the exact same way they’ve always been done, and that’s how they changed the world.” Being an entrepreneur, maybe I have a soft spot for those who take risks and mix up the game, but I’m not off base to suggest innovative figures like Edison, the Wright brothers, and Steve Jobs captivate the popular imagination. They built a better mousetrap instead of sitting back, hoping the mice would get easier to catch. Now, I’m not saying all change is good. You can’t alter the way your business operates just to “shake things up.” Intention behind these decisions matters. You need to know why you are changing and how you are going to do it. The Games appear to be in lockstep with CrossFit’s overall shift to a more inclusive message; it seems to me
Glassman and his team have their intentions figured out, but can they can execute them?
In the short term, the execution will be chaotic. I’m speaking from personal experience here — O2 has changed plenty over the years. For example, new cans, new packaging, and the brand-new flavors we released at the Games last year were shifts that brought their own unique headaches. These changes were painful and messy, but, every time we went through one, we arrived at a much better place. A few years ago, I’d never have dreamed of releasing decaf O2; now, affiliates tell me they can’t keep it in stock! One thing I’ve also learned through these changes is that innovation is like a muscle. The more you work it, the easier it is to use. We developed our caffeine-free flavors in four months. Our original flavors took us four years. Over time you learn what you’re good at, what your fans like, and how to get it to them. As long as you’re never content to sit on your laurels, intentional, effective change will be a little less painful and chaotic each time. That’s why our next innovation at O2 is going to be a big one. I can’t share the details yet, but it’s certainly going to be a big leap into the unknown. We’ve set a high bar for ourselves, but I’m more than confident our team has the experience to exceed it. Keep an eye out for our official announcement; this is going to be big news. Will launching this new innovation be chaotic? Painful? Stress inducing? Of course. But, if we were content to set back and avoid risks, well, O2 wouldn’t be here in the first place. So, I’m curious: What are some ways you’ve mixed things up at your box? What’s working and what needs tweaking? As CrossFit changes on the global level, I’m fascinated to hear how local affiliate owners are adapting in their own ways.
See you at the Games,
–Dave Colina Founder, O2
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