Even though Super Bowl XLVI was played a while ago, it still feels like it was played yesterday since it was, arguably, one of the most exciting Super Bowl ever played. The New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21 - 17 when they scored the winning touchdown with less than a minute left in the game.
People have moved on to other things, but I want to go back to that game since there is a very important lesson that companies can take away from Super Bowl XLVI: To win today, companies better learn to execute flawlessly with time running out. Competition is fierce today -- just like NFL -- that it often comes down to one play at the end of the game that is going to decide the outcome. This is the new reality in business too, and the the only thing you have control over is to put yourself in a position to have a shot to win.
What made the play so remarkable was that the Patriots defended it extremely well. They wanted to prevent Giants' two top receivers (Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz) from making the catch, which they did. The only player who would have to step up and make the big play would have be Mario Mannigham, the Giants’ third option. It was surprising that the play went to him since he had in the third quarter missed a big catch because he did not properly execute a pass route, which would have resulted in a big gain in yards or. possibly, even a touchdown.
The play was executed perfectly and the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. This is what teams have to do in the NFL to win since it is so competitive such that a difference between winning and losing often comes down to a stretched finger tip catch that has to be made with time running out and players hanging in your back. Welcome to the NFL!
If there is a glaring example of what you have to do to change history often comes down to making a play when the odds are against you. This is what Abraham Lincoln faced when he wanted to pass the Thirteenth Amendment. Passing this amendment was no slam dunk. It was a tough fight and it required Lincoln to execute a "Manningham" play to get it passed.
As the Civil War was coming to an end, Lincoln feared that if the Thirteenth Amendment was not passed, the Emancipation of Proclamation would be challenged in the courts and possibly ruled unconstitutional. He wanted to prevent this by and abolish slavery constitutionally by passing the Thirteenth Amendment.
The problem Lincoln faced was that he did not have the necessary 2/3rd votes in the House of Representatives to get the bill passed as explained in the book "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin and in the Steven Speillberg film, "Lincoln." To secure the few votes he needed from Democratic Congressmen to pass the amendment, he told two of his allies on how to proceed with the following statement: "I leave it to you to determine how it shall be done; but remember that I am President of the United States, clothed with immense power, and I expect you to procure those votes." They got the message and used whatever means available to them (through Lincoln's powers) to get five Democrats to change their votes and pass the amendment.
Until the Lincoln movie most people were not aware of how close this votes was and what it took to pass it. It all came down to making a "Manningham" play to pass the Thirteenth Amendment and change the course of history in the United States.
We are living in a hyper-competitive business environment today where every company has access to information, technology, processes, resources, capital and competitive intelligence. They will know a lot about your company through social media, Internet, press and analysts. There are no secrets. For you to win, it will often come down to a "Mannigham" type of a pass play with your strategy, execution and determination.
So, do you have a "Manningham" play in your playbook? Can you execute it flawlessly with time running out? Have you practiced it?
You better have one and have practiced it well since your winning or losing will come down to that play sooner than later. There are no amateurs in business competition today. Welcome to Global Business Competition!
Jay Oza is a founder and principal innovation development consultant at 5ToolGroup, a company that specializes in helping high tech companies bring their innovation to the market in 90 days. 5ToolGroup has developed a methodology that integrates 5 tools that enable Innovation-to-Market (ITM): Sales, Marketing, Partnerships, Customer Development and Agile/Lean Methodology. We are always interested in talking to companies who have the passion we have of bringing innovation to market.