Obsessive Attention to Detail: Not Just for Superbowl Winners

By Bill Fischer

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches the preseason game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on August 28, 2009 in Landover, Maryland.

Good morning sports fans! Perhaps like many of you, I suffered through the slog of a football game that was the Super Bowl this past Sunday (and with apologies to Maroon 5 fans, don’t get me started on the halftime show!). If you are a Patriots fan, congratulations! While I share the sentiments of many in disliking the Patriots, I do respect them. Greatly in fact. To make 9 Super Bowls and win 6 of them since 2002 is no fluke. In fact, as Sally Jenkins’ article attests, it’s their obsessive attention to even the smallest of seemingly inconsequential details that distinguishes them from their peers.

After Sunday’s game, I was reflecting on the outcome and her article (if you like sports, its intersection with culture and and incisive, sometimes biting commentary, I encourage you to read her stuff!) and how to apply the lessons of Belichick to strategy and operations. And the simple answer, for me, is twofold:

  1. Obsessively get the details right for things you can control to avoid any unforced errors, and

  2. Gameplan, in advance, for any changes in the dynamic customer/stakeholder environment and what your response strategy will be. 

The latter point is not to suggest that organizations can anticipate everything that will happen. Unlike Romostradamus, we can’t predict every play with 68% accuracy! (an actual study was done on that). However, we can and should try to do so. Like Belichick, preparing to make on the fly adjustments will better position organizations to win the game when customer assumptions inevitably change. 

What do you think?


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Bill Belichick” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0