I am watching Canada’s Curling classic, The Scotties Tournament of Hearts, this week. Success in curling requires a high degree of technical skill but the top teams have another thing in common – strong communications within the team.

Make the plan: Before each rock that is thrown it requires an objective.  Teams will confer and confirm their understanding of the objective, the expected speed of travel, the path the rock will take, alternate outcomes and remind each other about any potential issues with the plan.

Take action: When the rock is in motion, the thrower will tell the team whether the delivery has been as expected or if not, what is different i.e. speed, direction.  Simultaneously, the skip will be assessing the direction of travel and the sweepers are assessing speed and turn.

Stay focused. As the rock continues, the sweepers and the skip are in constant communication. The skip watching “the line” or trajectory of the rock and letting the sweepers know whether the rock appears to be achieving its goal; while the sweepers are monitoring the speed and turn of the rock.  There is a frenzy – and often loud – exchange among the team members as they attempt to take action to keep the rock on course or if that’s not possible to establish a corrective path with a positive outcome.

Measure results: Once the rock comes to rest, the team assesses their situation.  They discuss what made that particular plan successful or not and beginning planning their next steps.

When you consider that each team will do this 80 times in a typical game, that each rock takes about 30 seconds to arrive at its destination and that the top teams will curl around 200 games in a season, it’s no wonder that they work just as hard to master the art of communication as they do honing the technical side of the game. More often than not when there’s a “miss” the team will determine that it was caused as much by a breakdown in communications as a technical issue.

The corporate world should take careful note!