Super Bowl XLVI will not soon to be forgotten. With the New York Giants written off around week 14 of the season with a .500 record, this team exemplifies what it takes to go from ordinary to extraordinary. Tom Coughlin once said, “If you are as good as you can possibly be, the rest will take care of itself. What we need to talk about is winning before we talk about anything else.” Win, they did.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am neither a Patriots nor a Giants fan. Like many viewers, I merely wanted to watch a great game, a fun halftime show, and some humorous commercials. With those goals in mind, this Super Bowl may rank with the best of them.
This season, the Giants defined the epitome of what blocking and tackling is all about. It is the basic execution of fundamental skills that brought the team back from the brink, both during the regular season and the big game.
With all of the much-deserved hype surrounding Eli Manning and his stellar offensive performance, the old adage that "defense wins games" should not be forgotten. In 2011, the New England Patriots averaged 428 yards and 32.1 points per game. In Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots gained just 349 yards and scored only 17 points as a result of the fundamental execution of basic blocking and tackling by the Giants’ defense.
Breaking Free of Marginality
In our own claims organizations, we should look to the leadership of this team, both on and off the field, to better understand their resurrection. It was this perseverance with a focus on winning that ultimately ruled the day. In a society where marginality has become socially acceptable, everyone gets a ribbon just for participating.
While the NFL season is over, our “season” never ends. The claims realm represents a perpetual game of process improvement in an increasingly difficult marketplace. Doing things “well” is not good enough for those who truly want to gain a competitive edge.
True success comes from looking across the business landscape. Which companies execute things well, marginally well, or not well at all? The Giants were a decent football team during the regular season, and they could have settled for the status quo. But they didn’t. Instead, they recognized that to achieve success would mean to improve upon what they were already doing marginally well.
This is true in any industry. Most companies stay in business by doing things marginally well, or “the way it has always been done.” The ones that succeed do so by offering superior quality and services. They are able to look beyond their own four walls across the industry to better understand how the competition works and what motivates them.
Changing the Paradigm
In some organizations there is a propensity to focus on internal improvement by measuring against oneself. This would be like the 2011 Indianapolis Colts saying they want to double their results next year, which would mean going from two wins to four wins. As a successful organization, they will not do that because their culture and leadership have defined them as winners. They recognize that to win the big prize, they must get back to winning at least nine to 11 games per season. This is the mindset that will enable them to do just that. This is also the paradigm that businesses striving for success must seize.
Changing the paradigm from “what we do right” to “where we can improve” is the foundation for long term success. Casting aside the mindset of “we have always done it this way” to “how can we do it better” becomes the springboard to take a claims organization from merely ordinary to extraordinary. Looking at the best of breed rather than just one’s internal results, forces companies, particularly insurers, to change for the better.
Great leaders continually do this, bringing about not only change in their own organizations but also the transformation of entire industries. They force change internally, and the ensuing ascent to success forces the competition to either change or falter. As coaching legend John Wooden once said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” The Giants recognized this at a crucial time and went on to be world champions.