The Weakest Link

Like many people, I’ve been watching the Rio Olympics every evening this week. It’s amazing to see these athletes who have trained all their lives to culminate many times in just this one experience. Then there are others like Michael Phelps who have dominated over several Olympics. I found the men’s and women’s relays particularly interesting and enjoyable as each country puts together a team of their best swimmers to compete as a group. A given team may have one particularly dominant swimmer, but they still may not win if the other team members are unable to at least keep up with the competition. In the women’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay yesterday, this was demonstrated as Sweden took an early and commanding lead in the first leg, then lost the lead to the Aussies in the second and third legs who had their top swimmers in those legs. The Americans managed to stay within striking distance of the Aussies even though they were behind by one second when Katie Ledecky took over and the Americans won by two seconds.

It is interesting how the outcome is influenced by the weakest link in the relay. It’s like a network where you may have consistently great performance in the data center, but those in remote offices are experiencing slow or inconsistent performance. This can impact productivity and even result in lost business (ie, gold medals). Assuring consistently great performance across all links in the chain wins the gold!

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