Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Super Bowl Musings
In each game, the difference between winning and losing came down to one or two plays – and in each game, those one or two plays were marked by key mistakes made by players on the teams that ultimately lost. Two teams that had spent months of training, practicing, making adjustments, and planning saw their seasons end because of the actions of one or two players who didn’t perform when it mattered most.
Any reader of my blog knows I can relate almost anything back to my work at Imagine! and the field of serving those with developmental disabilities, and the outcomes of Sunday’s games, and the way they ended, were no exception.
I spent considerable amount of time after the games wondering if planning really mattered. The amount of work the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens had put into that season suddenly seemed futile because of a fumble, a missed catch, and a missed field goal. And I wondered if the same could happen at Imagine!. Could it be that all the work we as an organization put into being strategic and preparing for the future be rendered meaningless if a few employees ignored the safety of those we serve? Or that one or two regulations put in place by the various bodies that govern what we do create an atmosphere that makes it practically impossible to continue to provide superior services to some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens?
To be honest with you, the thought was quite depressing.
But then I started looking at the bigger picture. Here’s the thing: every organization suffers setbacks at times. It is the organizations that consistently plan well, and are able to focus on long-term successes by setting a vision and sticking to that vision while being willing to adjust and shift strategies to account for changing environments, that are the organizations that can withstand temporary setbacks and succeed in the long run.
Look at the two teams that did win Sunday’s games. Including the upcoming game, since 2001, the New York Giants have been to the Super Bowl three times. The New England Patriots have been there five times during the same period of time. If you look at the Super Bowls from the past decade overall, you will find they have been dominated by a small number of teams. This is all the more impressive considering that the NFL prides itself on parity.
Certain NFL teams consistently have long term successes. Maybe they don’t reach or win the Super Bowl every year, but they always seem to be in the running. Meanwhile, other teams in the league go years without even getting to the playoffs, let alone reaching the championship game.
I would argue that the reason teams that are successful in the long run achieve that success because they remain committed and focused to an end goal, and don’t allow the occasional setback to cause them to lose that commitment or focus. Therefore, the franchises that are successful get judged not by one-time events, such as a loss in a big game, but rather they are judged by sustained greatness.
I think it is the same for organizations that serve individuals with one or more developmental disabilities. Undoubtedly they will suffer the occasional setback and not everything will always go smoothly. If they remain focused on the big picture, however, I believe organizations like Imagine! will be judged by their long-term success, not the occasional blip or slip. We may not always make it to the Super Bowl, but we’ll always be in the hunt.
Then again, what do I know?