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What can businesses learn from strategies used on Super Bowl Sunday?
Super Bowl fervour is here, and with it comes the inevitable armchair quarterbacking and game play second-guessing. As any football fan can tell you, at the heart of a good game is a winning strategy.
Coaches and players immerse themselves in strategy long before the first snap of the ball on the field. Champions live by their ability to execute and die by their inability to perform, and the most winning teams are fond of saying that the best defence is a good offence.
However, this analogy isn’t only applicable to the Super Bowl. There are takeaways for the business world from professional sports strategy and lessons to be had on winning in an ultra-competitive marketplace. After all, what makes a good game can make an even better business.
And arguably, businesses face as many hard hits as football players on the field - especially when only two-thirds of businesses survive the first two years and only half survive a full five years.
In the face of such daunting statistics, how can your business get the ball rolling toward strategic success? The answer can be found by those winning football teams - prepare, and be proactive.
Here are a few hints to help:
Offence And Execution
A good defence is necessary whether on the field or in a business environment and should never be considered the enemy of strategic action. After all, a strong defensive mentality can set a business or team up to see threats and protect against them.
However, when a defensive mentality becomes the very obstacle to action, then is the time for a strong offensive strategic mindset. Just as players must react, businesses must develop comprehensive strategies with clear goals upon which to execute and move forward.
Strong offensive action allows players - and businesses alike - to hinder opposition and prepare for counterattack in order to gain strategic advantage. So while defense remains an important element of good strategy, offense and execution are key to making a it work.
Build The Right Team
Without a stellar team in the right positions, the best offence means nothing. How players in an organisation work together and communicate is essential.
When 95% of the typical workforce doesn't understand their organisation's strategy, getting the right people in the right places communicating with one another cannot be over-stressed.
Just as putting a kicker in the game as a middle linebacker could prove fatal, so could placing the wrong employee in charge of a strategic initiative turn out disastrous without the right communication and training.
A good strategy requires aligning top talent with tasks, organisation, insight, and leadership from the top down. Just as the coach calls the plays in the Super Bowl, an executive or the C-suite should drive a company's business strategy.
Clear direction and strategic organisation from the top leads to better communication and understanding across all channels of an organisation, which in turn leads to open sharing of ideas, a sense of team, and keeps everyone working with a clear objective in mind. A good business strategy links everyone together and keeps everyone motivated.
Develop Your Brand
The Super Bowl is synonymous with brand recognition. From the million dollar commercials to the team logos all over the stadium, brands and branding are big business. And, while you may not equate brand recognition with strategy, brands are successful when business owners have a clear picture of what their brand represents and what it is meant to achieve.
A well-developed business plan can also act as a brand strategy for companies. A strategy can set clear vision statements which in turn helps define who a company is and what they are aiming to achieve.
A clear strategy also protects companies in times of crisis as it can provide key metrics to measure a company's health, as well as provides a clear path forward for when a business might be struggling with identity. The right business strategy enables anyone to achieve results, which in turn leads to name recognition within the competitive marketplace.
Take Time Out
Football is an intensely strategic game. It doesn’t take a commentator to see that every play is well planned out and strategically designed. In fact, the game is so heavily reliant on strategy many coaches take timeouts just to make sure their whole team is aligned, and there are parallel lessons for businesses.
Just as teams need to take time outs, sometimes businesses need to take breaks to evaluate their strategic plans. It is okay to take time out to review and realign corporate goals, check KPIs, and ensure tasks are being completed. And if your current strategy isn’t working, change it. Every step forward should be calculated to create the perfect balance of thinking, planning and action.
The Super Bowl is not so different from the business boardroom. A strong offence, coupled with the right team, self-awareness and willingness to reevaluate can lead any company to a big win. So whether Super Bowl or super strategy, truly the best defence is a good offence.
Super Bowl Strategy: The Best Defence Is A Good Offence