December 6, 2005

News & Opinion: Baltimore Ravens and Jim Collins

By: Jack @ 4:50 PM – Filed under: Leadership & Strategy

John Feinstein, one of the best sports writers, has written a new book on the NFL called Next Man Up. He follows the Baltimore Ravens from the end on the 2003 season thru the 2004 season. It is a great view inside the locker room and the General Managers' office.
All is not well in Ravenland in the Fall of last year. Bill Bullock, the head coach, used Good to Great during his team meeting after a especially bad loss.
He went back to Good to Great, the motivational book he had told them about before the season. One of the sections in the book was called Confront the Brutal Facts. Knowing all the whispers going on in the locker roomall of which he heard in one form or anotherhe confronted them. He knew the defense wasnt happy with the offenseespecially the play calling. He knew the offensive line wasnt happy, either. They were a great run-blocking line being asked to pass-block 60 percent of the time.
Here are the brutal facts, fellas, he said. Defense, youve got a team backed up inside the 5-year line on the first series of a game, you have to stop them! Offensive line, you arent happy with how much were passing, well, thats on you. We averaged under four yards a carry on Sunday and we didnt have a single run over ten yards. You want to put that on the backs? Or is it on you? You want thirty five to forty run calls a game, fine, Im all for it: earn it. Its easy to point fingers. Thats what losing teams do. Winning teams look within and figure out how to get better. We do that, we can still have the kind of season we all want. If we dont, we wont.

This is another example of the universality of many business ideas. An aside, I think I should send a copy to Coach Mike Sherman. But I think it is too late. We are in the "wait until next year" mode.