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Insights From The Score Takes Care Of Itself Pt. 2 (#48)

In part 2 of the very very fantastic and honest The Score Takes Care Of Itself, Bill Walsh talks about the very principles that made him the top head coach in the NFL in the 80s and 90s. 

Opportunity Is In The Eye of The Beholder

  • How effective are you at turning nothing into something, something into something that changes everything?

Don’t Be Desperate and Be Open-Minded

  • Success doesn’t care which road you take to get to its doorstep
  • Be Bold. Remove fear of the unknown - that is, change - from your mind
    • Respect the past without clinging to it: “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is the mantra of a team setting itself up to lose to an organization that’s not doing it that way anymore. 
  • Desperation should not drive innovation. 
    • Here’s a good question to write on a Post-It Note and put it on your desk: “What assets do we have right now that we’re not taking advantage of?”

Welcome Skeptics To Your Team

  • Perhaps still is in some organizations, when all hell would break loose if someone raise his or her hand during a staff meeting and asked, “What happens if this does not work? What then? Others - usually the boss - would brand that person as a negative thinker, maybe even a loser.
  • In your own challenges, are you receptive to new, even unorthodox ways of getting things done?

Share The Glory

  • Few things offer greater return on less investment than praise - offering credit to someone in your organization who has stepped up and done the job. 

Write Your Own Script For Success: Flying the Seat of Your Pants (Is No Way To Travel)

I edited this section down for readability - but I thought it was interesting that he planned out the 1st 20 plays of each game regardless of how the other team’s defense was set up. Why? So he could clear his mind up for other scenarios that were bound to come up.

  • Contingency planning is critical for a fire department, football team, or company and is a primary responsibility of leadership
    • The miliary is known for this - war gaming, thinking through its response to all contingencies. 
  • You must continually be anticipating and preparing to deal with “foul weather.”
  • Making decisions off the top of my head was a recipe for a bad decision - especially under pressure. 
  • You must envision the future deeply and in detail - creatively - so that the unforeseeable becomes foreseeable. 
    • I don’t care how smart or quick-witted you are, what your training or intellect is; under extreme stress you’re not as good. 
  • Scripting was a prepared format, a flexible blueprint that I used to navigate through the turmoil, uncertainty, and stress of competition.  

Planning Meetings At Disney 

  • The link between scripting and success from Michael Ovitz: 
    • “Every detail is important 
      • Where do you have a meeting? 
      • What is the surrounding environment? 
      • People who don’t think about these things have a harder time in business. 
      • It’s got to be the right place. 
      • It’s got to be the right color. 
      • It’s got to be the right choice. 
      • Everything has to be strategized. You have to know where you’re going to come out before you go in. Otherwise you lose.”
  • What is the width and depth of the intellect you have applied to your own team’s contingency planning?
    • What could happen tomorrow, next week, or next year that you haven’t planned for, aren’t ready to deal with, or have put in the category of “I’ll worry about that when the time comes?”
  • My planning was not limited to plays on the football field, of course, but also to the big picture. A leader must see the forest and the trees. 

Stop Throwing Hail Marys

  • When you’re forced to go to some version of a “hail mary pass’ on a recurring basis, you haven’t done your job. 

Protect Your Blind Side; The Leadership Two-Step Move/Countermove

  • You may have to prompt yourself to continually and aggressively analyze not only your personnel but your organization’s vulnerabilities: What’s our blind side?

The Archaeology of Leadership: Seek Reward In The Ruins

  • Progress, or lack thereof, in sports and business can be measured in a variety of ways, some much more subtle than others. 
  • A season’s won-lost record (or your market share, sales figures, stock price) may not - will not - tell you what you need to know to be fully informed about the strength of your organization. 
  • It is often difficult to assess these interior, or buried, signs of progress or dysfunction, strength or weakness, because we become transfixed by the big prize - winning a championship, getting a promotion, achieving a yearly quota, and all the rest.
    • When that goal is attained, a common mistake is to assume things are fine. 
  • Conversely, when you or the organization fall short of the goal, the letdown can be so severe you’re blinded to substantive information indicating that success may be closer than you would imagine. 

Looking At The Past To Help You Make Good Decisions In The Future

  • Every leader does year-end reviews and comes to conclusions of one sort or another. 
    • My observation is that two leaders - coaches - looking at the same information will not see the same thing. 
      • The one who’s a more skilled analyst, who digs deeper and wider, will benefit more. 
      • It often requires a strong stomach, because what you’re rummaging through may include not only achievements but the remains of a very painful professional fiasco. 
      • It requires a keen eye for analysis, a commonsense mind for parsing evidence that offers clues to why things went as they did - both good and bad. 
  • In planning for a successful future, the past can show you how to get there. Too often we avert our gaze when that past is unpleasant. We don’t want to go there again, even though it contains the road map to a bright future.

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