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Super Bowl or Project Failure: Rarely Comes Down to One Play

Super Bowl or Project Failure: Rarely Comes Down to One Play

We all knew the second-guessing and armchair quarterbacking would start as soon as that final interception in the Super Bowl? Why do you throw a pass from the 1-yard line when you have over 20 seconds, a timeout, and the most relentless “Beast Mode” running back in the league? But here is my synopsis: whether it is the Super Bowl or Project Failure, it rarely comes down to just one play.

Consider just a few of the following impactful plays and stats during the game:

  • While watching the TV on the elliptical this morning, I saw some stat that said Marshawn Lynch was 1-for-4 scoring a TD from the 1-yd line (either for 2014 or for the playoffs this year, but it is worth noting).
  • If Lynch did not score, then Seattle would have needed to burn their remaining timeout. With a pass to the end zone, the optimist is thinking “we either score the TD, or we get an incompletion to stop the clock.”
  • The ball was perfectly thrown to a receiver in the right position. The undrafted free agent defensive back just happened to make the PERFECT, aggressive play for the interception. This is the same rookie who made an outstanding defensive play just a couple plays before…but the ball bounced back into the Seattle receiver’s hands. At that time everyone thought the Seahawks must truly be a “team of destiny” considering their incredible good fortune with that play and several plays in the NFC Championship game (fake field goal, 2 point conversion, and recovered onside kick).
  • Brady threw a rare interception in the end zone in the first half. If he doesn’t throw that pick, the Patriots come away with at least three points that could change the tenor of the game.
  • Seattle’s daring play-calling, for which they are getting reviled for the last play of the game, resulted in them coming away with a touchdown before the half. Probably 30 out of 32 NFL coaches would have taken the field goal since there was only 6 seconds left…and that is about the average time for a play to develop. They “reached for the brass ring”, with creative play-calling that also made the difference in the NFC Championship game, and they tied the score going into halftime.
  • The vaunted Seattle defense allowed Tom Brady to pass for 4 TDs with a quarterback rating of 101 with a 75% red zone efficiency.

Have you ever been part of a project failure in your career? I’ve had one, and it made me physically ill! I felt like I had been punched in the stomach…and then kicked in the ribs while I was down! I felt like Richard Sherman did here when he realized certain victory had been forcibly snatched away with no chance to recover:

NFL commentators, armchair quarterbacks, and even some of the Seahawks teammates want to put the blame on one play call…but several plays contributed to the loss. When a project fails, it is only natural for people to look around to determine which individual is to blame. However, when we were able to step away from the project loss, gain some perspective, and then do an objective retrospective…we realized several plays and missteps contributed to the project loss.

  • Did we manage client expectations?
  • Did we maintain open communication channels while frequently requesting feedback?
  • Did we have the right players in the game – the right resources on the project?
  • Did we do our best to prepare those resources and then support them with a well-prepared team?
  • Did we adjust our game plan when we realized “Plan A” wasn’t working?

This was an agile project, so we had DAILY opportunities to set expectations, communicate, alter our game plan, and support our resources! We simply did not do enough in response to the warning signs.

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” The Seattle Seahawks have a great identity, and they are beloved by the entire Pacific Northwest. They have a lot of good young players, led by a humble and thoughtful quarterback in Russell Wilson. Lynch can still go Beast Mode (so I hope they resign him), and Russell Sherman is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL as he leads the Legion of Boom. Side Note: I’d still like to see Sherman take a few notes from Wilson. I was frustrated with his antics with the “2-4…2-4…touchdown” when Darrelle Revis got burned for a touchdown. It made me want to say “you sad, Bro” when I saw the reaction in the Vine video above.

By the same token, I’ve learned from my project failure. I’ve worked for companies with great resources that achieved great successes with satisfied clients. In fact, my current company – ProKarma – has gone beyond successful agile project execution. ProKarma has led full-scale agile transformation for clients, so perhaps we could help your company, too. Visit our website, check out some of our case studies, and feel free to drop me a line with any additional questions you have.

Meanwhile, here is a screenshot of Pulse fAnalytics this morning. I thought some of the Instagram photos were hilarious (like Sherman counting how many rings Tom Brady has…or Kobe saying that is why he never passes). And for the record…I would have run Marshawn Lynch, burned the timeout, and run him again.

Patriots beat Seahawks in Super Bowl. Here is a Pulse fAnalytics screenshot

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and now grandsons! I am blessed in that I also love my job as a VP of Enterprise Solutions for ProKarma. I appreciate the convergence of big data and data visualization in our Pulse Analytics social listening and analytics platform as well as our core software / mobile app development, business intelligence, and test automation services. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin. You can find Brian on .

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