retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Okay, you may be totally over discussions of the Super Bowl. But I'd like to take advantage of your good nature and talk about the final moments of the game that sealed the New England Patriots’ victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

I want to identify some great management lessons in those moments, but not from the interception that got everybody's attention. There were two plays - one before it and one afterwards - that actually are a lot more important and worth discussing inside your organizations. They demonstrate what happens when people do their jobs and maintain focus, and what happens when they don't.

The first play is one you have seen repeatedly, but it’s the part of the play that draws the least attention. The play was the incredible catch by Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse in the final minute of the game. In what seemed to be slow motion, we watched the ball bounce off nearly every part of Kearse’s body before he cradled it in his hands for a successful catch.

Kearse was actually able to get back on his feet and could have walked five yards for the winning touchdown. But he didn’t do that because Malcolm Butler of New England also got back on his feet and pushed Kearse out of bounds. There is no overlooking what he did on this one play - Butler fell and saw an opposing player make a ridiculous catch, and yet he kept his wits about him and finished the play. He was focused. He did his job.

Butler gained much more fame two plays later with the interception that iced the victory for the Patriots. But think about what happened immediately after Butler’s interception. The Patriots had the ball and no room for error, lining up within inches of their own goal line and peril. (For you non-football fans, it was entirely likely that New England could be pushed back one yard. That would have given Seattle two points and a chance to score again to win the game.)

Only before the next play took place, a Seattle player moved too quickly, drawing a penalty that gave New England breathing room and an easy end to the game. That Seattle player lost focus. He didn't do his job.

Think about that: in Butler’s case focus and persistence resulted in a game-saving play. The penalty was the opposite: a self-inflicted mistake or mental lapse that ensured his team’s defeat.

And that’s why both need be discussed with your teams. Both plays are such great examples of the importance of focus and of every individual completing their tasks. In one case the lesson is positive and the other a complete mistake. There’s no doubt which path you want your team to follow so that customer service or any other task is done to its fullest and best every time out.

Often we hear that culture is what people do when no one is watching and we could say the same about execution and performance. So it’s interesting that in the single event more Americans watch than anything else, we see two such stark examples (occurring within seconds of each other) that demonstrate so clearly the importance of doing a job properly and completely.

It’s a lesson we all need to learn because the line between victory and defeat can be that small. For your business it could be every bit as important.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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