We are all Playing a Game

Organizations are a relay race, depends on us what we relay

Are you working or playing?

We all fulfil our job responsibilities, yet it’s crucial to recognize that we contribute beyond mere tasks and transactions. Each individual’s work and actions have a direct impact on the subsequent person and, consequently, on the overarching business objectives. In this analogy, if one employee experiences a slowdown, it adversely affects the ultimate outcome. In operational scenarios, a decrease in one person’s pace ripples through to the next, compelling them to expedite their work to meet deadlines. It’s imperative that we comprehend how our pace influences others and the overall organizational goals.

Business is much like a sports game. Everyone in the team has clear goals and collective mission. Every person’s action affects the entire team and also the end result.

Team sports teaches us important values of sacrificing personal gain for the benefit of the group, teamwork, social skills, life skills, and the development of positive character traits. It also emphasizes the importance of mental and physical abilities in achieving goals. All of these are important in business as well.

Our approach to our work and business can improve significantly by drawing a parallel with sports, particularly team sports. This unique perspective and approach, helps us recognizing and valuing the interconnectedness we all share in our work.

Let’s compare it to a relay race.

A relay race is a track and field event in which teams of runners compete by carrying a baton and passing it between teammates. The objective is to complete a set distance as quickly as possible. Each team member runs a segment of the race, typically one-fourth or one-eighth of the total distance, before passing the baton to the next runner in a designated exchange zone. The race continues until the final runner crosses the finish line.

Relay race may not be a popular sport, but it is definitely a key metaphor to explain teamwork. In the organizational context, the relay race concept symbolizes the idea that individuals work together in a coordinated manner, passing on responsibilities and tasks to achieve a common goal.

How do we achieve this sense of teamwork like a relay race

Sense of team

The alignment problem is so common that only 8% of B2B organizations have actually aligned their teams successfully to drive growth (source: foundryco)

Engaged members are 5 times higher performers. These people are emotionally attached to the needs of the organization. They are engaged and emotionally committed to business and its goals, demonstrating a commitment that enables them to make critical decisions and achieve superior results.

To address alignment challenges, it is important to foster a sense of team. The context of being part of something larger is crucial for individuals to set aside personal needs and work collectively toward common goals. Therefore, aligning everyone on the same page requires cultivating a strong sense of team identity.

Belief system

Mindset encompasses your beliefs, while perception pertains to how you interpret things. Establishing and conveying goals, crafting vision boards, and providing training are measures taken to articulate objectives. Simultaneously, there is an ongoing effort to work on both mindset and perception in order to yield effective results.

Knowing the mission gives employees a sense of purpose and meaning in their work. This understanding can serve as a powerful motivator, as individuals are more inspired when they see the broader impact of their contributions on the organization’s mission.

Principles of Relay Race

A shift in perception, instils a super confident approach in every team member and aligns organizational objectives. There is a connection in lessons learned from team sports and the skills essential for success in business. A few principles would help approach organization as a relay race.

Coordinated Effort:

Relay Race: In a relay race, team members pass a baton sequentially, symbolizing a coordinated effort to complete a race. Each runner’s performance impacts the team’s overall success.

Teamwork: In teamwork, individuals collaborate, contribute their unique skills, and work together towards a shared objective.

Dependency on Each Other:

Relay Race: Success in a relay race relies on the timely and efficient transfer of the baton between runners. A delay or mistake from one member affects the entire team.

Teamwork: Team members depend on each other’s strengths and expertise to accomplish tasks and solve problems.

Clear Roles and Responsibilities:

Relay Race: Runners in a relay race have specific roles – running a designated distance and smoothly passing the baton. Clarity in roles is essential for success.

Teamwork: Each team member typically has assigned roles and responsibilities based on their skills and expertise.


Relay Race: Communication is non-verbal but highly precise during the baton exchange. Clear signals and understanding are vital to avoid mistakes.

Teamwork: Effective communication is crucial for conveying ideas, coordinating actions, and ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Shared Goal:

Relay Race: The ultimate goal is to complete the race successfully. Each runner contributes to the team’s progress towards this common objective.

Teamwork: Team members work towards achieving a shared goal or completing a project.


Relay Race: The success of one runner is directly linked to the performance of the entire team. Each participant’s actions impact the others.

Teamwork: Team members rely on each other’s contributions, creating an interdependent relationship.

Sense of Unity:

Relay Race: Requires a collective spirit as team members share the same track and contribute to a joint effort.

Teamwork: Fosters a sense of unity and camaraderie among team members.


Teamwork: Involves adapting to changes, addressing challenges, and working collaboratively to overcome obstacles.

Relay Race: Team members must adapt to the pace of their teammates, adjusting their efforts to maintain a seamless race.

Humans are innately driven to seek happiness and fulfilment. Identifying as a team (a relay team) cautions individuals against falling into the trap of pursuing success at the expense of personal well-being. People learn how thinking about others and the impact of their actions affect others. They learn to understand perspectives, sense of togetherness, shared success, and happiness.

Topic coined by Parth Hirani compiled by Shivani Buch

J.hirani provides strategic advisory services to manufacturing, service brands, product brands, online/ offline business. Read our capabilities.

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