Bottom Line and Business in New Zealand

The business of rugby – top line to bottom line, frontline to backline

Posted on September 4, 2013 by Cherri Holland on her website. Published on the South Africans in New Zealand site with approval.

It’s two years since we were lamenting Dan’s injury, fretting over Richie’s foot and were about to claim rugby’s greatest prize for the second time. As we look forward to some exciting test rugby, consider these rugby-inspired business reminders. Crossing commercial terms like line manager, top line and bottom line with rugby’s emphasis on front line and back line, you get a range of business critical success factors.

Once you line up your organisation strategy with market conditions, hard assets (things) and soft assets (people), you can systematically manage these lines to improve competitiveness, minimise risk and build forward momentum (go forward ball).

  • Top line represents your value proposition. Well articulated and conveyed, this creates market pull (demand) without which you don’t have a business.
  • Front line converts consumer desire (pull) to dollars. Those on the front line are your eyes and ears in the market. They will keep the business close to the customer and convert desire to dollars (push). Of course, not all sales are profitable but without sales, you are on the back foot.
  • Midline – think of this as the heart of the business. This is what keeps people connected, aligned and ‘pumping.’ Ensure people know the impact of their actions. Each role contributes vitally to success, or it shouldn’t be there. Do all people embrace their responsibility for business success?
  • Back line executes and delivers on promises made at the Top line and by the Front line. Do the front line and back line work in sync? Do your ‘centres’ distribute quickly and cleanly? Do the front line sometimes promise what can’t be delivered? Do the back line drop the ball, causing the front line to lose sales confidence? Do the centres stall or misdirect at crucial moments, dissipating margin? These lines of play build momentum or contribute to loss.
  • Sidelines provide the parameters in which a business operates. This is your risk mitigation, cost minimisation and hazard protection.
  • Bottom line indicates the health or otherwise of the business, its competitiveness and its attractiveness to investors (sponsors).
  • Advantage line refers to your hunger for competitiveness through opportunism and continuous improvement. This predicts longevity.


With due focus on these seven lines, you have the best chance of world-class performance and successive wins.

Then see leadership as an attitude and market position, not a role or title. Leadership can come from anywhere across the park when people and functions line up with purpose to make your organisation the leader in its field.


Cherri Holland

PS Imagine if we held both the William Webb Ellis trophy AND the America’s Cup at the same time. (Not even the Aussies have achieved that!)

About Cherri Holland : I’m interested in what makes business buzz. My twenty years’ experience, in 9 countries, has confirmed what was a growing awareness for many years: it’s the people in the business – in the middle and at the front – (not the products and certainly not the business owners) that make a business succeed. It’s how they think, feel and act – day in/day out.

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