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How’s Your Game Plan?

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Last week’s Super Bowl was fantastic; it had everything you could possibly want in an NFL football game: fast pace, great execution, the highest caliber of athlete, intrigue, entertaining half time show, competitive game, a coming out part for a new stadium, and of course most importantly, funny commercials!

Even if you are not a football fan, I hope you had a chance to see it. For me, it was refreshing in the sense that I had no dog in the hunt. I didn’t care who won, I just wanted to see a great game; and what a game it was!

As I watched things unfold I was reminded that in professional sports, almost always the team with the best game plan wins the game. Not the best play book but the best game plan. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s start with that old standby the Meriam-Webster Dictionary and see what it has to say about these two phrases:

Play Book = A stock of usual tactics or methods

Game Plan = A strategy for achieving an objective

That’s right, strategy v tactics.

This Super Bowl featured two teams with incredible game plans; both willing to adjust, adapt and create to try and achieve the ultimate objective of winning the game.

Many of the greatest NFL coaches are notorious for scripting the first 15-25 plays of a game, typically the first three offensive drives. Why? Because it works. Why not more? Because the defense adjusts and oftentimes forces a change in the game plan!

A good game plan has to take into consideration external environmental factors that can alter your ability to execute your strategy – weather, injuries, unanticipated emotional upheaval that has nothing to do with the task at hand, and yet has everything to do with the task at hand! In the work of community building, this could be the lack of affordable housing, transportation access, logistics, talent readiness or a plethora of other factors that if not managed properly, could “knock you off your game plan”.

Point being, if you are not working at these external factors in your community, it doesn’t matter how strong your playbook is, your game plan won’t work.

I have never seen a losing coach say, “their playbook was better”. I have seen losing coaches say, “they had a better game plan”!

How good is your game plan? Does it take into consideration external factors that impact your ability to perform? Are you proactively addressing your deficiencies (or working with others to ensure someone is addressing them)? Is your game plan grounded in a comprehensive, pro-active, value driven long-term strategy that affords flexibility, creativity and innovation while also providing a clear and consistent path forward?

Those are the components of a strong game plan. How’s yours?

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