Who (Seattle) Will Win the Super Bowl?

Who Will Win the Super Bowl?*

It seems perhaps a bit trite to say "The best team." So we won't.

What we will say is, it will be the side that exhibits the best teamwork.

12th ManGetting to the championship level of any major league professional sport is pretty good evidence that you're loaded with talented players, wise coaches and a supportive cast in the front office. It also means you're probably pretty cohesive as a group.

But winning the championship depends on teamwork even more than getting there. Because the other guys are probably a match for your talent, coaches and front office. (Unless you're the 1985 New England Patriots vs. the Chicago Bears. Which we will not discuss.)

The winners of these events need an edge. Something that provides the "X" factor, the unexpected advantage that the other guys don't have and didn't think of. The "Twelfth Man" (and this time we aren't talking about crowd noise).

The ability to work together. To communicate without words. To know each other so well, to be so bonded, that you can anticipate what they're going to do and act accordingly. In football it may mean passing the ball downfield without looking, or throwing a block left when your ball carrier dodges right.

When you get to that point - and the other guys don't do it quite so well - you've got the edge. And that's the team that'll win.

* (We hope it's the Seahawks, but we understand that rooting for the local guys doesn't make it the correct choice. It does make it the "right" choice, though. Doesn't it?)


What did Dr. King do for teams?

Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King - his life, his legacy, his accomplishments, his vision.

And what he has done for teamwork.

It may seem trivial to think of his sacrifices in terms of business efficiency, effectiveness and cohesion when his contributions on the realm of social justice loom so large.

But the fact is, what Dr. King was about was making it possible for persons of every color, creed, and nationality to be able to live and work together in harmony, without prejudice.

Accepting others for who they are and what they can contribute, rather than some demographic quality.

Because of Dr. King, many now hire, promote, train and yes, even fire, based entirely on a person's accomplishments, rather than on their appearance or faith.

(We say "many." We hope it is "most." We wish it were "all." We, too, continue to dream.)

Doesn't that make for better teams? Isn't your team better off for this?

Isn't that important?

We thought so.


A new Teamwork twist on an old tale

What's better - slow and steady? Fast and reliable? Being the best? Here's a video with a couple of new twists on an old tale - with implications for teamwork.

Hint: you may want to skip ahead to 0:55 ... unless you really don't know the turtle-and-hare fable.


Better lucky, or good?

Forbes Magazine recently posed that question about a team we like to follow (The Oregon Ducks football team). A timely post, considering that he Ducks play against the Texas Longhorns in a few hours in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, TX.

The author argues that while luck has played a role in the Ducks' success - in particular, "getting lucky" by nabbing a generous benefactor in alumnus Phil Knight of Nike - the Ducks are really great because they obtained great "return on luck" - i.e., they made the most of their opportunities.

We'd go a step further to say that the Ducks helped create their own luck.

First off, Mr. Knight's success in business can be attributed, at least in part (and by Mr. Knight himself), to the education he received at the U of O. He's paying it forward to other Oregon students and athletes.

Second, the U of O athletic department made a commitment to success in their football program. They didn't wait for Phil Knight to make donations - their hard work started much sooner. And they continue to do so.

Third, as the article goes on to remind us, Oregon's values played a big part in their success. It's what has kept their coaches on staff for, in most cases, decades - unheard of in college sports. In fact, tonight's game is the last for defensive coach Nick Aliotti, who is retiring after 24 years with the program. Not cashing in on a move to, say (ironically), Texas, who is in a coach-recruitment mode and has big bucks to spend. It's why star QB Marcus Mariotta wants to return for his senior year rather than enter the lucrative NFL draft early.

We're rooting for the Ducks tonight. We hope that they get a few breaks. But we also just hope that they're good - as they usually are.


Make your team a super-achiever

Is your team a super-achiever?

A super-achieving team is one that performs well above the expectations set by the "experts." Outsiders looking in see - or fail to see - the talent levels of your team and predict failure or mediocrity. Then your team outperforms those expectations. By a mile.

Three teams come right to mind right now in the world of sports:

the Boston Red Sox, who were predicted to come in last place in their division (again) but won the World Series;
the Seattle Seahawks, who were expected to be good but who have surpassed all expectations by (so far) earning the best record in the National Football League;
the Portland Trail Blazers, who were expected to be mediocre, but who now hold the best record in the National Basketball Association.

Mind you we are not talking about over-achievers. Over-achievers are teams which succeed despite their talent, by pure luck or some other outside force. Over-achievers succeed for a while - but then inevitably fall back to their expected (or at least, more natural) level of success. (We won't name names.)

Why are these teams super-achievers? Because:

- They do have talent - lots of it - but lack "marquee" players who demand (and receive) top dollars and endless media attention
- They win far more than expected
- They win **because of teamwork**

Yes. Teamwork. That's the element that puts them over the top. Players picking each other up when they have a down day. Communicating, trusting, selflessly helping each other succeed.

Build your team's teamwork infrastructure - and you will build success.


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