I had the opportunity to be bored last Saturday; the kind of bored where one turns on the TV and starts casting about for something to watch. HBO’s Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching caught my eye. Thanks to my English father, I’m not much for watching football (or any sports for that matter), but I loved the idea of hearing the story about how two top coaches came to be.
The interview/documentary ran around two hours and explored all the expected content including baby pictures, high school exploits, and so on. One thing that really stood out was the mortality of both protagonists. At the end of the day, Nick Saban and Bill Belichik are just two men putting their pants on one leg at a time. Of course, in the words of Walken’s SNL Bruce Dickinson, after those pants are on, they make gold-plated records.
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Both Belichik and Saban’s success appeared to boil down to a few simple concepts (hard work, perseverance, etc.), but one stood out head and shoulders above the rest: “Do Your Job.” Both coaches talked about the common pitfalls of externalization. When we screw up, it’s easiest to blame others for their shortcomings rather than internalizing failure. This phenomenon is human nature and something Belichik and Saban fight back against using visualization. They beckon players to picture a perfect game broken down into perfect plays. If each person just does their job (the proverbial “you had one job”), they win. If they don’t, they might still win, but more often than not it creates a toxic culture where A Players resent the rest of the team and round and round we go.
“Do Your Job” is a beautiful turn of phrase and is instantly relatable. We all know what we’re supposed to be doing and, if we don’t, it’s our job to seek out the right direction. So often we can slip into a victim’s mindset of waiting to be told or claiming someone didn’t tell us what to do.
Great companies foster cultures of excellence where they let their team members know how the game is played, how they keep score, and where the supply closet is. The rest is up to them. Companies with a lack of direction are very often led (from the rear) by folks with a muddy understanding of where they’re heading and what winning looks like. If we don’t know when we’ve succeeded, how the hell are we going to grow? Using the Saban/Belichik concept of “Do Your Job” we can instantly connect anyone on the team to their role in the success of the organization.
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An old story about a major airline recalls a passenger asking a flight attendant for some milk to enjoy with his cookies. Without missing a beat, the flight attendant responds, “Milk is heavy and adds weight to the airplane. When we add weight, we use more fuel. When we use more fuel, it costs more to fly the plane and ticket prices go up. We’re dedicated to offering our customers the lowest ticket prices in the industry. Sorry about the milk, sir.”
Think about your CI business. Does everyone understand their job? Do they have the tools to be successful? When things go well, do you celebrate individual contributors and the whole team? What about when things go wrong? Do you seek to fix blame or fix the problem?
What are you doing to improve the “Do Your Job” mindset inside your business?
Stay frosty, and see you in the field.