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How ’bout Those CHIEFS?!?!

Casey Woods by Casey Woods, Executive Director | February 4, 2020
Chiefs Super Bowl
What lessons can we apply to our local businesses when we compare them to the Super Bowl Champs?
You might have heard that a local football team won the Super Bowl this past weekend. Even if you aren’t a sports fan there are several things that we can learn from success in athletic endeavors that we can apply to our local businesses and organizations. The compressed time frame of the athletic season for each sport makes the impact of strategies and values fairly evident. Here are a few things that were associated with the Chief’s historic season that you might apply to your own organization:

You can’t simply emphasize your strong points. You must add balance to your organization.- Last year, the Chiefs had one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, but they didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. Many pundits thought that a lack of a quality defense kept them out of the “big game”. Similarly, several businesses have strong points that are focused on, while weaker points are often ignored. If your business is great at bookkeeping, but your marketing efforts are less than stellar, your business will lack growth capacity. If your external business design is attractive enough to pull people in consistently, but your internal operations that process sales is chaotic, customers won’t consistently patronize your business. Keep the good parts of your team, but you have to improve your weaknesses if you hope to grow your business to the next level.

“Good enough” rarely is good enough.- Great businesses and organizations are always pushing for internal innovation. When a business challenges itself to do more to satisfy the wants/needs of customers, and organizations challenge themselves to improve, entities ascend. When “good enough” is the constant mantra of an organization, you know they aren’t pushing for improvement. The Chiefs changed their entire defensive scheme and altered a significant amount of their offense after making the AFC title game a year earlier, because making it to the title game for their respective conference wasn’t good enough. They had loftier goals, and made changes to attain them.

When something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change direction.- In three consecutive playoff games, the Chiefs fell behind by double digit points. If they hadn’t made in-game adjustments, losses were guaranteed. In the real world we don’t get to judge our success with a game clock and a scoreboard, but we can typically tell the things that aren’t working in our organizations. If you like the direction you are going, then keep pushing forward, but if you see that you are losing in areas, change your approach.

Losses happen, but they can’t act as an excuse.- Injuries are a part of the NFL Game. This year the Chiefs lost their quarterback for a couple of games, some offensive linemen for extended stretches of time, and two key defenders were lost for the season, yet they pressed on. Entrepreneurial businesses have an emotional component to them, and it is easy to start letting losses wear you down. If you aren’t excited about your business or organization, no one else will be excited about it either. Your enthusiasm or your lack of enthusiasm is infectious. You still have to produce (NFL teams that talk a lot with zero wins aren’t highly regarded), but you have to find opportunities to win if your business hopes to succeed. When the Chief’s were down 24 points to the Houston Texans, some of their starters let their body language reflect a lack of belief in their ability to win. Other starters pulled them aside and let them know that their attitude was pulling everyone on the team down. A change in strategy coupled with a change in attitude generated a changed (winning) outcome.

You have to take some shots if you hope to win.- Big businesses are known to grind small businesses down. Huge building budgets, national marketing experts at their disposal, and tight branding can generate brand addiction. Small businesses generally succeed by standing out through innovative practices. Entrepreneurs find what makes them different (in a good way) or the unique needs/wants of a community and they take shots to engage customers through innovation. The Chiefs didn’t have the roster to succeed in a “smash mouth” football game, but they could gain chunks of yardage (and points) by using their speed and vision to succeed.

A culture of success generates results.- There is no sport that exemplifies the importance of culture quite like the NFL. Every team has the same salary cap. Every team has the same access to the draft and free agency. The league is set to create (at least in theory) parity. So why do some teams always seem to be in contention, while others seem to lose every year? Culture in any business, organization, or team is one of the most underrated contributors to success. Leaders on a team can define a culture of success by making metrics based expectations clear and inspiring those around them to achieve more. Clark Hunt, in the first meeting with Chief’s players at the beginning of training camp made it clear that the expectations were to win a Super Bowl, and that everyone from ownership, to coaches, to players were going to be given the tools to make that expectation a reality. When interviewed, players often talked about giving up individual statistics in pursuit of team wins, and celebrating the successes of everyone within their organization. When was the last time your business or organization talked about the expectations you have for your entity?

Leaders sacrifice and set an example.- Leaders set the limit for their organizations success. No one will (at least over the long term) will work harder, sacrifice more, or pursue innovation more diligently than organizational leadership. By setting a great example, organizations achieve more and other leaders emerge within businesses or organizations (as they emulate leadership). When a certain “Honey Badger” (Tyrann Mathieu) would motivate the Chief defense, it meant something to his teammates because he would consistently provide big plays. When Patrick Mahomes would sacrifice his body by taking hits on the way towards a touchdown, you could almost feel the offense pick up. A lack of energy and productivity is often a lack of effective leadership.
Yes, there is more to life than football. Sports may not be your thing, but sometimes sports can simplify organizational lessons that makes a strategy easier to absorb. Plus, I’m still a little hyped up by the Chief’s Super Bowl win (just being honest)! Regardless, if your business or organization is looking to achieve at the highest levels of success, you can often gain inspiration and insight from others that achieve at an extremely high level. And, GO CHIEFS!
#Promotion #Business Enhancement

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.

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