Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 199 – Scoring To Win

Dear leaders, have you ever sat in a meeting and stagnated, whether that’s with your team, in middle management or at the senior executive level?

The one way most likely way to move forward for most is parking it and revisiting it. That’s long, frustrating and slows down decision-making. 

Others like to grind it out and then meeting recovery syndrome is brutal and sends shock waves through businesses. 

I prefer scores…

I have a sports background, I played almost every sport I could, I played basketball, tennis, soccer, cricket and even lost a few fights in Muay Thai as a kid. 

Scoring Systems

  • Almost all of these sports have dedicated scoring systems for each version, even when playing soccer with friends you create a score or ongoing system to know who wins and loses.
  • Martial arts are great at scoring, as you know the quality of your opponent by the belt they wear, they are graded and scored regularly. 
  • In MMA (UFC) and boxing they both use scorecards, both disciplines have versions of the same scores but they are private until the end of the fight. Who wins is based on the judges’ scorecards – this is always hotly contested when it is close but a winner comes out of it and has their hands raised at the end.
  • Cricket is a sport where you track every single ball, you have it logged and basically you could understand the momentum shifts, from a bowler losing confidence to a batman hitting their first boundary (like a home run in baseball) and then it’s up to them to concentrate and continue scoring. 

Momentum, Mindset, Winners Mentality 

In tennis, it’s easy to know who is winning, by the game, by the set and by the match. 

My brother and I would basically play until we were too tired to ride back home, but my brother is ultra-competitive and always wants to win, especially when I would go up a set and he would typically come back. 

He was always the better player (pains me to say) but momentum in sports is a huge thing and when I had true momentum I would out-battle his quality advantage and beat him. 

Momentum: This is the same in business. Momentum often swings and beats the incumbent without them noticing and without having a scoring system away from metrics and how they are progressing towards their Northstar metric. 

Winner Mentality: Some of the greatest ever tennis players are naturally gifted and super athletic but the top 1% of the 1% is down to their mindset and having the winner mentality. 

In business solo players like this can struggle to influence enough people to have the same elite winners mentality. 

Scoring To Win

Something you will notice is the importance of winning and the importance of keeping score.  

If you are not keeping a record of the score, how do you know how you are doing? 

Scores in business are often the run rate, the costs or the flow of the business. 

Often we ignore scoring our campaigns, our people and our product performance until layoffs or 9-box exercises are given to us. This is then a hard job and when you need to explain decisions it can be extremely difficult to explain something others understand and accept. 

This is where many businesses can make better decisions by applying scoring and having a scoring system that allows everyone to know the metrics and the guidelines for success.

Audit Scoring 

I always encourage all product teams to audit and audit aggressively. 

By scoring and using an open-to-for-all scorecard. I created a scoring system to apply across the user journey to know where to work and what is going to have to be improved to keep customers happy and remove product decay. 

Do you formally audit and keep score? If not, why not? 

The Exec Netflix Score

At Netflix, they created a scoring system -10 to +10 on big business decisions, this came after their very early call to switch business models to go super early on streaming when a large percentage of customers were DVD only (the famous Qwikster business). 

This is a recent quote from Reed Hastings the co-founder of Netflix from the Tim Ferriss podcast that I love: 

Listen to the full podcast below

My important question for you today is – Do you have your own scoring system? 

This week’s focus action is – Can you make smart decisions by asking your team to score and score regularly? Not like eNPS or other metrics that are too situational.  


  • The best managers energise their teams by person-to-person management and ensuring they have a personalised target that energises them towards success. Everyone is engineered differently, the best managers know this and can press that button. 
  • Whereas, the best leaders can inspire teams of people when the chips are down with a rally cry, or a great way to re-think to move forward or they unlock a way to score others just haven’t seen.

Will a scoring system be that for you? 

Have a great week ahead!


Danny Denhard

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