Basic blocking and tackling is what wins games

As we are several weeks into my favorite season of the year, “football season”, I wanted to talk about what businesses can learn from football.

If you study the pro teams over the course of any given year, while there may be some glitzy, special or “trick” plays along the way, those are not what account for a winning season.  Football teams win because of the good old everyday “blocking and tackling”.

The winning team:

  • Doesn’t turn over the ball- they limit the dropped passes, fumbles and protect the ball with every fiber of their being;
  • They don’t miss easy tackles- they stop the defender and protect the quarterback;
  • They don’t have communication mishaps- if the play is called by the quarterback as “64 green”, everyone knows what that means. 


Teams don’t win consistently because of double reverses, fake punts, flea flickers or “Statue of Liberty” plays (when’s the last time you saw that one in the NFL?).  While these glamour plays add excitement and can sometimes be valuable to change momentum, a team cannot rely solely on the bells and whistles to win games. 

Either should your business.

We are in an era of information overload.  Sparkling, shiny new strategies abound.  Buzzwords from personal branding to social media get the media headlines.  But how does a business succeed?  Through good old blocking and tackling.  If you don’t have a strong value proposition that entices the customer, if you don’t regularly build relationships with and engage your clients, if you don’t have strong profit margins and keep track of your expenses, no fancy strategy in the world is going to help you.

Focus on the basics.  Don’t drop the ball with your customers.  Don’t miss easy opportunities to inspire repeat business.  Have strong systems that are clearly communicated throughout your organization (or with your partners).

You can throw in a trick play from time to time to spark interest from your “fans”, but have a solid team and foundation to rely on.  That’s what builds champions, on the field and in business.