The post below was originally called Worst. Call. Ever. and was written the morning after the Super Bowl. Maybe it really resonated with all of you or maybe it was just good SEO, but this became the most-read post of 2015. It’s the kind of post I love to write: take an everyday event and extract some point that makes us better businesspeople. Tomorrow we’ll have the year’s top Foodie Friday post (even though it’s Thursday!). Enjoy.
I suspect you watched the Super Bowl last night. Hopefully, you did so all the way to the end and you witnessed the subject of today’s rant. For any of you who missed it, the Seahawks were driving and were on the 1-yard line, about to win the game. They just had to run it in and had 3 tries to do so (OK, maybe 2 since they only had one time out left). I’ll let the Times explain:
A team with Marshawn Lynch, one of the best goal-line running backs in football, instead opted for a far riskier option, and Malcolm Butler made them pay, intercepting the ball at the goal line to effectively end the Seahawks’ hopes of winning a second consecutive Super Bowl.
Coach Pete Carroll took responsibility for the call after the game. So did his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell. Whoever actually made the call, the decision joins an ignominious list of the worst coaching decisions in sports history.
There is a business point in that decision. Simply put, rather relying on the proven strengths of his team, the coach opted for trickery. Obviously, it backfired and they lost the game. It’s a good lesson for all of us. We invest a lot of time in building our team and our business. We come to realize over that time the things at which we excel and which help us win. Those are the things upon which we must rely, especially during crunch time. Trying “trickeration” may seem like a fine idea but it usually isn’t as good as doing what is known to work.
It wasn’t absurd to think of trying a pass play when everyone is expecting a run. What made it such a bad call was that the passing game hadn’t been particularly effective and the Seahawks had lived on Lynch’s running ability all season. Expecting him to run at you is not the same as stopping him and the Patriots hadn’t done so without at least a yard gained during the game very often. In business, it’s not about what the competition is expecting. It’s not about trickery or fooling anyone. It’s about executing better than they do and producing a better product or service. Ask Apple.