Sunday, November 9, 2014
Bill Belichick: "We're Onto Cincinnati"
For those of you who don't know, and may not care, the New England Patriots had 2 wins and 1 loss going into a late September Monday night game at Kansas City a couple of years ago. They hadn't played particularly well up to that point, so this was a prime time opportunity to get the ship sailing upright. Up to that point, the offensive line was in transition and ineffective, they had just gone toe-to-toe with the less than marginal Oakland Raiders the week before, and gulp!!!, people were questioning Tom Brady's age and diminished skills, as well as gulp!!! Bill Belichick's judgement with regard to personnel decisions and a lack of "playmakers".
So, on Monday night, September 29th, the Kansas City Chiefs annihilated the New England Patriots, 41-14, and the game really was not THAT close. Kansas City basically did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted to. They took their lunch money, and their shoes too. The Patriots were 2-2.
Remember the scene when the villagers, with torches, trapped Frankenstein in the castle? Mild compared to that following Tuesday morning. Brady is old, and Bill is out of touch. Talk radio, Twitter, cable sports shows, you name it, they had torches.
Coach Belichick then pulled together a press conference performance akin to the Gettysburg Address. As the torches closed in, Coach answered every single solitary question with the exact same answer........"we're onto Cincinnati."
"Coach, do you regret trading (All-Pro) Logan Mankins?" We're onto Cincinnati.
"Coach, did you ever think about replacing Brady with rookie Jimmy Garrapolo?" We're onto Cincinnati.
"Coach, particularly nasty weather we are having, isn't it?" We're onto Cincinnati.
Etc. etc. etc. Here is a link to this inspiring speech....http://youtu.be/vyv_CseclBQ
Well, the Patriots now sit atop the AFC at 7-2, having won 5 straight games since Kansas City, including a 43-17 beat down of..........Cincinnati.
3 leadership lessons here for me. First, the one thing we need to bring to our teams on a daily basis is unwaivering OPTIMISM. Come hell or high water, we need to be able to stand up in front of our teams and with a healthy disrespect for the current condition, say, "it isn't great right now, but I promise you, we ain't staying here!! We will figure it out together!"
Second, IGNORE THE NOISE. I have talked about this in previous posts, and the Patriots actually have a sign in their locker room that says exactly that. If you are a Lean company, expect noise. Meaningful and effective change will always bring noise. If you don't get noise, you are probably doing "more of the same". There will be times when people stomp their feet, complain and seek comfort with their peers in the lunch room. It is just noise.
And third, the first principle of the Toyota Production System is to manage with a long view vs. a short term view (it reflects a belief that people need PURPOSE to find motivation and establish goals.
Coach Belichick was communicating all three of these lessons. What I heard was: "The Kansas City game was yesterday, and I have 100% faith in the ability of every stakeholder of this team to not only compete in this league, but to continuously improve each week so we can compete with anyone in our marketplace come January. Nobody will be benched or traded. We will work hard to continuously improve. The NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint, so I am ignoring all this noise".
"We're on to Cincinnati."