What Can the NFL Teach the Social Inc.?


There are two seasons in America -- almost football, and football.  Thankfully, the latter has finally arrived -- which got me thinking about some lessons that the NFL has for the social enterprise. 

Collaboration Is Not Cooperation..It's MUCH Better

American football is an elegant symphony in the execution of a competitive plan. It's the ultimate collaborative sport -- 11 players working in harmony every single play.  Each player mutually engaged in the shared creation of a result, like the Social Inc.              

Compare this with companies that function based upon the cooperative business management model of the past 100 years.  This division of labor focused approach has tasks performed in isolation -- more like baseball.  This model has hierarchies, matrix structures, complicated org charts, convoluted job levels, roles and definitions that are all trying to get people to perform tasks that add up to a decided outcome.  

The cooperative model is highly inefficient, full of friction, dysfunction and a sloth like approach that is ill suited to the rapidly changing playing field of business.   Unfortunately, this structure is never aligned or integrated as elegantly as a collaborative model.  It's a victim of its own design.   

Directors And Coaches Are Birds Of A Feather

The quarterback of a football team is a nice metaphor for a CEO -- in charge of executing the game plan.  The Board, is his coaching staff.   A collection of diverse skills and perspectives that helps a great CEO make adjustments, and understand risk in the broader context.   Coaching staffs are very diverse in the NFL -- offensive coach, defensive coach, line coach, special teams coach, quality coach, linebacker coach, defensive backs coach, strength coach, quarterbacks coach, wide receiver coach, etc. etc.  That's a lot of coaches, each with specific domain expertise. 

The Social CEO and Chairman also surrounds him/herself with a diverse set of skills, including social technology skills, to understand their rapidly changing world.  Only then, can they execute like a champion.      

Becoming A Social Inc. Champion

There are some teams that are consistently good over time -  Patriots, Steelers and Packers come to mind.  Sadly, my Kansas City Chiefs are not on this list.  The hallmark of these teams is always the same -- it's a combination of great coaching and great on the field collaboration and execution.   

The tools and techniques of social technology enable an entirely new level of collaboration in business.   A Social Inc. brings a diverse Board, Social CEO, the right technology and a collaborative approach to winning the game of business -- winners in the NFL do the same.          

This years Super Bowl champion?  Chiefs 28 - Packers 24.   Go Chiefs!

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