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Belichick on Culture: Sometimes You've Got To Say "What The..."

You've been there before.  People around you are playing the odds.  They're shifting lanes on the freeway, following up on emails after a textbook two days silence and <gasp> electing not to challenge incoherent thoughts in meetings for political reasons.

Everyone's doing it kid.  Work the odds.  Survive and advance.  Play it by the book.

Of course, if everyone is playing the odds, the collective experience of the pack is, well... AVERAGE.Belichick_and_brady

Sometimes, if you want to build or maintain something of significance, you have to say "what the <...>" and do something to challenge the status quo.  To let the team around you know that your tribe is different.  Like Bret Michaels of Poison once crooned, you might have to give them something to believe in.

Did I just go all Poison on you?  Freakin' A.  So did Bill Belichick of the NFL's New England Patriots when he made, what many consider to be, the worst call of the decade.  More from the Boston Globe:

"For those who were looking for a candid explanation or an emotional mea culpafrom Bill Belichick the morning after his already-infamous unconventional decision late in the game contributed to the Patriots' shocking 35-34 loss to the Colts . . . well, you haven't been paying attention to the coach all these years.

Last night Belichick surprised -- OK, shocked -- Patriots fans with his decision to go for it on fourth and 2 from the Colts 28-yard line with 2 minutes and 8 seconds remaining and a 34-28 lead, a decision that backfired when the Patriots failed to convert and the Colts quickly responded with the winning mini-drive, culminating with a touchdown catch by Reggie Wayne and the extra point with 13 seconds remaining."

That call has been panned as one of the worst ever in the media blitz that followed.  I didn't get it either.  Then I saw the quotes from the Patriot's locker room:

Carrying the most weight is Tom Brady himself, who unequivocally stated after the game, "I love the call."

“I love the fact that we’re out there with a chance to win. The coach has confidence that we can make it. I had confidence. We all did.’’

Ah ha... right.  "Our leader believes".  "Our leader is different".  "We play to win".  And so goes the flip side of any unconventional, play to win decision you make in your business, especially when your survival is not in doubt.   Being willing to do something unconventional, against the book, can be a stroke of genius that can galvanize your team.

What are the examples in the business world?  What would send a message that it's NOT business as usual with you as the leader?

Would firing non-profitable customers send a message?  What about spending resources to go after customers the previous management team never dreamed could be landed?  Fill in the blank.  What blows up the status quo and sends a message for a team that needs leadership?  Can you take the chances without putting the survival of your company at risk?

Then you might want to channel Bill Belichick and Bret Michaels - and give 'em something to believe in.  If it goes well, you're a hero.  If it blows up, you're a maverick worth following into battle.  Used sparingly, not a bad outcome either way...


Corey Harlock

Great article!

On the other side of the coin however there had also been a lot of talk about how on one hand Belichick may have pumped up his offence but on the other hand he may have devastated his defence.

All of the experts (NFL experts) are talking about how that decision may translate as lack of trust to the defensive unit.

I am all for being different and playing to win but without communicating your intentions to the whole team you might be looked at as just "going rouge!" and that is not good!


Bellichick was correct in his assessment that his offense gaining two yards had a better chance at winning the game than relying on the Patriots' defense to stop Peyton Manning. Manning was already moving the ball at will in the fourth quarter. He moved it less than 30 yards within a few plays on that short winning drive, and odds are he would have done the same thing with a 60 or 70 yard drive as well.

The fumble by Maroney near the end zone earlier in the game proved to be the back breaker. Even a field goal aat that point would have put the game out of reach, even for Manning. Oh well. Better luck next time.

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