From the Gridiron to Your Gross Margin

by Tori Johnson on February 8, 2011

Modis looks at how lessons from the big game translate to winning strategies in the workplace.


This past Sunday, millions of people watched the “big game” from the comfort of their homes, parties and bars around the country. But now that we’re back to work, it might be a good time for you and your team to reflect on how the victory by the Green Bay Packers can translate to a winning strategy in the workplace.

Here are a few key takeaways from Sunday’s big game.

Learn from adversity.
The Packers overcame long odds and a bevy of injuries just to make it to the championship. Throughout the season, they lost 15 players to injuries, including their best running back and defensive tackle during the very first game of the year. However, the team fought through and clinched a wild card berth in a do-or-die game in the last week of the season. They then marched dominantly through the playoffs despite playing every game on the road in hostile stadiums.

So when Sunday’s game proved to be a microcosm of their season, with a string of injuries befalling key players and the Steelers-friendly crowd getting louder and louder as the game went on, the Packers proved undaunted. They simply played their game, called on unheralded members of their team and refused to panic. They proved triumphant once again.

Green Bay linebacker Desmond Bishop summed it up best. “[It] was the way our whole season was in one win,” he said. ”Ups, downs, roller coaster rides, people getting hurt, and a momentum swing. We showed resilience again. We just kept fighting, and stayed as one.”

The Packers faced adversity throughout the season. And, instead of wilting under the pressure, they learned from it and became better because of it. In much the same way, it’s important to remain resilient when things don’t go as planned in the workplace. Whether it be a missed sale, a poor presentation or an unplanned for defection, discuss these instances with your team. Make sure to incorporate these discussions and lessons learned into your operations, so you can mitigate and overcome similar occurrences in the future. These situations can also prove to be great opportunities to refocus your team and reinforce the collective goals of the company.

Have confidence in your team.
One of the key Packers who suffered an injury during Sunday’s game was cornerback Charles Woodson. A team leader and experienced veteran, Woodson was lost to a broken collarbone late in the first half and never returned. In his place stepped the unheralded Jarrett Bush, a player who had been mostly relegated to special teams duty. Thrust into the spotlight, Bush made the big plays. He had a key interception late in the second quarter to set up a touchdown drive and batted away a pass from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the last pass of the game to clinch the victory for the Packers.

Packers secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. recognized the impact Bush had on the game. “He’s a quality player,” Whitt said. “Is he Charles Woodson? No. But he’s Jarrett Bush, and Jarrett Bush is good enough to win a championship with.”

Like an NFL roster, your organization is made up of many role players who contribute to your success behind the scenes every day. So when the situation arises and you need someone off your bench, be prepared. Take the time to get to know the strengths and capabilities of your entire team so you know who can step in and step up when needed. Like Jarrett Bush, some of these players are capable of making a championship-level impact.

Play to your strengths
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Packers clung to a slight four-point lead over the Steelers. With the ball in their possession, the old axiom of “run the ball, kill the clock and hold on for the win” was surely bandied about by many arm chair quarterbacks and would-be head coaches watching the game on television. Luckily for the Packers, that thought never crossed the mind of their coaching staff.

Instead, the Packers stayed aggressive and continued to rely on their passing game, as they did all season long.  The result was eight-straight passing plays and a key touchdown reception that gave them a 28-17 lead. Later in the fourth quarter, after the Steelers closed to within 28-25, Green Bay again went against the grain and relied on their passing game to mount a key drive that went 75 yards and ended in a field goal.

With time winding down in the biggest game of their lives, Head Coach Mike McCarthy and the rest of the Packers coaching staff knew what gave their team the best chance to win. Defying convention, they played to their strengths and moved the ball through the air as opposed to on the ground. Likewise, when you are faced with a crunch-time decision, don’t be afraid to go with your gut and embrace the methods and practices that have worked for you even though they may be unconventional. Similarly, encourage an environment that promotes “thinking outside the box” so that you can explore the value inherent in different lines of thinking. An open, collaborative environment can help you identify your best chance of success.

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