On Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles were trailing 14-6 to the Detroit Lions when in the middle of the 3rd quarter something changed: the Eagles in the same conditions as the first half, changed their play and began scoring. In a little more than a quarter the Eagles scored 28 points to win a game that seemed doomed (yes I’m an Eagles fan :-)).
This type of turnaround is not a rare occurrence in American Football, and it is what makes the game entertaining and fun to watch even outside of the US. I love working with teams and I look at this phenomena with an open mind to see if we can learn something relevant to teams in business.
So let’s break down what NFL teams that achieve these kind of wins do that works and leads them to be able to gain ground and win even when all seems lost.
1) Focus on individual Strengths
Individualism is at the centre of this wonderful sport. Not only is each individual strength is used in specific roles, but also each role has a specific part to play in each of the team tactics and strategies (plays). So much so that each specialist is trained to focus on that one job developing his natural strengths through specially designed exercises and training sessions.
2) A specific team for a specific situation
In an NFL squad there are 3 very specific teams that come into play: an offence team, a defence team, and a special team. Each team is deployed in the most appropriate situation to overcome a specific challenge during the game. While one team is on the field the others support them from the side lines and practice to sharpen their individual skills. Between each game each team practice together to perform each “play” at their best during the game.
3) A playbook full of “Plays”
This one factor is perhaps what is most distinctive of the NFL and is rarely seen in business. A play is a coordinated sequence of actions that is designed to overcome a specific challenge, each play has several variations that allow the team to quickly adapt and perform depending on the situation and in response of the opposition reaction. Each week the coaches review the last game and identify the critical challenges, they study the next opponent and began designing the strategic plays that will give them the best chance to win. Then each team practices and rehearses their plays to perfection.
- Does your team have a playbook of strategies and tactics?
- Do you review each business project after its execution?
- Do you take time to plan your next business project?
- Do you take the time to practice and rehearse each tactical approach?
- Do you have the right team tackling the right challenge?
- Do you have the right people in the right role making the most of their strengths?
- Do you give your people the opportunity to practice and develop their strengths?
So, if you are looking to build a high performing organisation, consider focusing on your people’s strengths, organise them into focused teams and develop a playbook full of plays.
Fabio Grassi is Executive Learning Director at IMI. He is a specialist in the development of team performance, collaboration and motivation. His approach involves the facilitation of tailored workshops aimed at the achievement of specific business outcomes. He is passionate about the development of ethical leadership through executive coaching.