Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots, is considered by many fans, players, and sports media figures to be the best coach in the NFL today.  In addition to winning three Super Bowls in the last decade, and appearing in a fourth, Belichick has also been named the NFL coach of the year three times, in 2003, 2007 and 2010. As we speak, the Patriots are on their way to yet another playoff run.

The success of the Patriots under his leadership is particularly impressive in the NFL, as opposed to other major sports, because the league is dedicated to the concept of parity.  There are mechanisms in place, including the structure of the draft and the salary cap, that make it very difficult for teams to sustain greatness over many years.

This matters to business owners because many of the principles of Belichick’s management style are applicable to the world of business.  Here are three lessons that I think are particularly valuable.

  1. Always look to improve.  Belichick is never satisfied with his roster.  He’s constantly looking to improve at every position, no matter how good the current player may be.  This motivates players to perform at the highest level, and the amount of talent on the roster ensures that if a player goes down due to injury, another player is ready to step up and take over.  If you took this approach to your business systems and your employees, how many opportunities for improvement would you identify?
  2. Leverage strengths.  Belichick is always looking for mismatches.  Unlike many NFL teams, who run the same basic offensive and defensive packages from game to game, Belichick’s Patriots will dramatically alter their philosophy from game to game in order to best exploit mismatches.  If he sees that the next opponent has a weak run defense, he’ll switch away from the usual pass-happy offense and focus on running the ball.  If he’s aware of weaknesses on his own team, Belichick and his staff will design a scheme to compensate for the weaknesses.  How can you take this approach to your company and your market? How many unique strengths does your business possess, and could you find more effective ways to take advantage?
  3. Always be prepared.  Belichick and his staff are exceptionally well prepared for each game.  While all NFL teams spend significant time studying their opponents, the staff of the Patriots is known to be particularly thorough when it comes to studying the tendencies of opponents and organizing the data into actionable data. How prepared are you and your team? Do you know the ins and outs of your products and services? When is the last time you’ve analyzed your market to see what the opportunities and threats are?

Is your business growing the way you’d like, are you on track to hit your goals – your Super Bowl?

If not, maybe it’s time to channel your inner Bill Belichick.  Honestly evaluate your organization—is there room for improvement anywhere?  What about your strengths—are you leveraging them to the best of your ability?  And are you doing your homework when it comes to strategic planning and market awareness?  Building a great organization requires hard work, vision, and determination… whether the organization is an NFL franchise or your business.