I spent Sunday afternoon with some people who thought this was the worst Superbowl they had ever seen. They wanted 35-32 offensive spectacular. They expected Cam Newton (the MVP of the league) to be able to pass for 300 to 400 hundred yards & 3 or 4 touchdowns.

Many expected Peyton Manning (who holds at least 15 NFL passing records and is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time) to struggle against the Panthers young aggressive secondary. He did. He’ll be 40 next month (ancient in NFL terms).

The young Turks were predicted to overwhelm the old guard. So much for the wisdom of crowds.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the Lombardi trophy. The NFLs #1 defense was so dominant it thwarted the best offense. It, figuratively, knocked Newton off his well-deserved pedestal. Denver relentlessly attacked & varied each to the point that Carolina simply could not adjust to. The game was over before Lady Gaga took off her platform shoes.

So what business lessons can we learn from Superbowl 50?

1. Strategy is for planning; tactics are for doing: Both teams developed very detailed strategies. Both knew their own & their opponent’s strengths & weaknesses. Both knew how to win the game based on their preparation. The Panthers blindly executed their strategy. The Broncos executed their strategy until it became apparent their tactics needed to change; and they did so.
Lesson learned: plan thoroughly, execute completely while being flexible.
2. Adjust to circumstances: The Broncos effectively adapted each defensive scheme to the changing situations. They played more than the down & distance on the coaches play-sheet. They overpowered the Panthers by adjusting to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses on each play.
Lesson learned: Assess, adapt, adjust to get the best result
3. Experience can overcome enthusiasm: Remember that old story about the young bull & the old bull? Well, this game demonstrated it clearly. Use your experience to take advantage of the current situation & don’t blindly jump at the shining object in front of you. Use all your capability to continually assess the changing landscape to optimize your actions. The results will be better than the alternatives.
Lesson learned: the tortoise beat the hare because he used his brain & his brawn.

It is amazing what we can learn by watching.

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