It's Hard to Win if You Only Play the Bench

Normally, I'm not keen on sports metaphors, but frankly I can't think of a better one when it comes to the topic of why organized real estate is having so much trouble competing these days.  

The MLS is built on the idea of cooperation, right?  Kind of like a team, right?  Yes, brokers are all competitors, but the idea is that, through cooperation, they all benefit.  Kind of like when you've got a team full of players and the super stars cooperate and play as a team rather than for themselves.  Even though the super stars may not make the highlight reels as often, it makes the team better and more successful, right?

Ok, great.  So, what happens when a team has not very good players?  Depending on the coach, there are a couple of ways to play it: A: Play the team with the best chance to win by keeping the best players in the game.  Or B: Be the paragon of fairness and play all players for an equal amount of time regardless of skill.

There are really two different goals - win at all costs; or give each player an equal opportunity to play.  At the sports level, once kids are into junior high school the equal opportunity chance has pretty much been replaced by the "win at all costs" philosophy because it's hard to keep kids enthusiastic team members when they don't win.  The move away from equal playing time definitely leaves some behind because it is just as hard to keep people enthusiastic about a team when they don't play, as it is when the team doesn't win.  So what do you sacrifice?  Don't play the great players and risk having them quit because they're not playing enough and the team loses or do you put the best team out there and bench the mediocre players who aren't good enough to help you win?

While listening to the excellent CRMLS live stream on MLS topics last week I was struck by the similarities of our industry and the sports analogy described above - with one important exception.  In its bid to be fair, the MLS industry is losing - repeatedly - because many of our "players" aren't even showing up.

Art Carter, David Charron, and Rebecca Jensen are all forward thinking MLS execs running some of the largest MLSs in the country.  In my analogy, they are the MLS "super stars."  I heard them saying two things:  1. The MLS industry can't win if MLSs don't collaborate on a single data set, and 2. There are MLSs that refuse to collaborate because they either believe they are too special or because they have no idea what the stakes are.  They didn't just not show up to practice, they're not even on the team.  But NAR seems to be so intent on ensuring their opinion is heard, they continue to craft policies and messaging desperately careful to be inclusive at the cost of winning.  They're going to win the battle by appeasing some members, but they're going to lose the war.

Think about the NAR conference and the cast of thousands voting in the Board of Directors meeting. I am sure that the volunteers sitting on the NAR Board of Directors are well-intentioned, intelligent people, but they are not as educated as they need to be on MLS issues and they are deciding the fate of the MLS industry.  In point of fact, in their one year stint as President encompassing usually no more than two NAR meetings (maybe four, if they were sent as President-Elect) they received a grand total of 3-4 hours of MLS specific topics.  With that limited education and whatever information they make have picked up on their own they are expected to become knowledgeable enough to make decisions that will affect the business of every Realtor broker in the country.     

I want to stress that it is not their fault.  Sure, if the team isn't winning you can blame the players, but if the team that's out there isn't the best team, you have to blame the coach.   -   CP