Business and the Broncos Share Success Lessons

On Sunday, November 29, 2015, many of us were watching The Game. This particular NFL game was the Denver Broncos vs. the New England Patriots playing at Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High, but if you’re anywhere in the region, you could just call it The Game and we’d know what you mean. Over 75,000 fans attended in person despite snow and temperatures in the teens. You just can’t keep Broncos fans down, and by the end of the night, you couldn’t keep the Broncos down either. 

As expected, The Game was the main topic of discussion the next day at work. Well, the main topic besides actual work. Yet, the two blend so easily – a discussion about the challenges and successes of an underdog win applies to business as well as it does to professional football. Some of our colleagues weighed-in about how the Broncos win reminds them of business wins.

Choose the Right People with the Right Passions
Since John Elway took over as the Broncos’ team president in 2011, the Broncos have been an extremely well-run organization as evidenced by a string of four consecutive AFC West division titles (soon to be five), three playoff wins and one Super Bowl appearance. And, while the fans see the victories on Sundays, they don’t always appreciate the business principles that Elway and the Broncos bring to the organization. The business principle that has really improved the team is the leader’s ability to pick the right people for his organization. 
With Elway at the helm, the Broncos have emphasized finding the right types of players to fit their organization. These players had to have an extremely strong work ethic who loved playing football. For example, in 2012, they made the bold decision to bring in hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning as a free agent and draft Brock Osweiler as its quarterback of the future. Both players have a strong love for football (Manning’s work ethic and study habits are legendary, and Osweiler chose football as his sport despite getting scholarship offers to play basketball at Gonzaga).  Both moves have paid off handsomely, with Manning leading the Broncos to three straight division titles, earning one MVP award and one Super Bowl appearance, and Osweiler looking like the Broncos’ quarterback of the future and potentially the present. This is just one example, as the Broncos have strong leadership, work ethic and depth throughout its roster.

Brian Tibbets, International Operations Manager, CAP Worldwide

Keep Pushing Even When You’re Down
Watching a nail-biter of a game like the Broncos vs. Patriots really highlights some of the keys to success, both on the field and while running a business. Perseverance and having a reliable team are just a couple I can think of. Down by 14 against an undefeated championship team, in the cold and snow, and without our star player, the Broncos never gave up and kept playing their hearts out. Also, even without Peyton, they put their faith in Brock Osweiler and our defense, stuck with the coaches’ game plan and pulled off an amazing victory. Much like running a business, you need to keep pushing, even when you're down, and surround yourself with a reliable staff that will work together to accomplish your business goals.

Alex Villareal, IT Specialist, NUSS Professional Services Group

Combine Forces for Fluid and Crystallized Execution
Overtime at Mile High -- it’s 3rd and 1 on the Patriots’ 48 yard line, and the young Brock Osweiler steps up under center amid a snow globe of flurries. The breakout QB has stepped up to fill some of the biggest shoes in NFL, those of Peyton Manning, and has somehow managed to keep his team neck and neck with Tom Brady’s undefeated Patriots. Osweiler is not alone, however, as head coach Gary Kubiak looks on from the sideline. 

In the past weeks, Kubiak and Osweiler have been solidifying a tight execution of the Broncos new offensive strategy in Manning’s absence, working on how to read defenses and audible accordingly. Seconds before the game’s defining play begins, Osweiler reads the defense and opts for an audible. The head coach knows exactly what Osweiler is thinking and manages to flag down a ref for a time-out just before the snap.

While Osweiler was executing the offense exactly as planned with a vigor only a young buck could, Kubiak knew something he didn’t. The two convened on the sideline. After a quick chat and a pat on the back, Osweiler headed back to midfield, set his team, snapped the ball, and sliced through the Patriots’ defense with a handoff to running back Anderson for the game-winning touchdown run.

In psychology, Raymond Cattell coined two types of intelligence -- fluid and crystallized. Fluid intelligence is the capacity to think logically and solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired knowledge. Crystallized intelligence is the ability to use skills, knowledge, and experience. It relies on accessing information from long-term memory.

In order to win big games and solve complex problems, your brain needs both. Watching Osweiler is an embodiment of fluid intelligence, relying on reflex, athleticism, and improvisation. But Kubiak has been in the NFL for decades, even filling the shoes as the Denver Broncos QB from 1981-1983.  He has years of memories and experience to draw from -- crystallized intelligence. 

With respect to business, we can glean a few principles from this sensational game. You can’t win with only years of experience, and you can’t win with just sheer talent. You need a combination of the two.  That means depending on the young and old for their respective strengths and working together to reach a common goal, because if you want to win the Super Bowl, you’ve got to win it together. 

Tim Bungum, Creative Director, ICOSA Media

Don't Underestimate the Power of Discomfort
In business you must be able to weather the storm in bad situations: changing economies, different ideologies, etc., but it is through this perseverance where true victories are won. The Broncos were down 21-7 , with little success happening in the snowy conditions, and the Patriots were looking like they would remained undefeated. However, the Broncos showed their toughness and determination to never give up, and through their fight were able to win in overtime.

Adam Wallace, Account Executive, CAP Logistics

Bad Calls Are Part of the Game
“I don’t know, I didn’t watch the end.” This is how a colleague replied when asked about how he felt about the game. More than a few people turned off the game when the Broncos were losing and a comeback seemed unlikely. And that’s understandable – Sunday night after a long, holiday weekend, we all had things to do. But those who made the call to turn off the game might have regretted it once they heard about the big win. Bad calls are part of the game. The aforementioned colleague could have said, “Oh, the end of the game was amazing!” but he was honest that he didn’t watch it. We must admit when we make a questionable call, learn from it, and move forward. 

These are a few conversations around our shared office space. What are your thoughts on how this big game reminded you of business success? Share your comments below!