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7 Scaling Secrets - #3 – Let’s Meet in the Middle (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Comeback Wins)

It was halftime on Sunday, January 21, 2007, in Indianapolis’ RCA Dome and the Indianapolis Colts were playing the New England Patriots for the right to play in Super Bowl XLI. The Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, had won 3 of the past 5 Super Bowls and the Colts hadn’t been to the big game since 1971 so you could forgive the Indianapolis fans for thinking this was their year.

The Patriots didn’t get the memo and led the game 21-6 at the half. Obviously, the plan that Tony Dungy, the Colts’ coach, and his staff had spent the past week developing and refining wasn’t working. So, he got his team into the locker room and made some changes to the game plan: a different mix of run plays and pass plays, a new tempo, and fewer mistakes.

6 minutes and 47 seconds into the second half, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning scored on a rare (for him) rushing touchdown and the Colts were on their way to a win, the largest deficit ever overcome in an NFL conference championship game, and, ultimately, a Super Bowl XLI victory.

When we look at scaling companies, we often use a football analogy like this one. Your North Star tells you where you want to go but doesn’t consider where you are today. Your ‘State of the Union’ tells you about the current situation without a perspective on where you ultimately want to go. Just like Coach Dungy at halftime, now is the time to take into account both where you are (down 21-6 in his case) and where you want to be (the Super Bowl).

We call this today, forward and tomorrow, backward. You want to find the intersection of your current state and your long-term goals. If you remember the ‘North Star’ analogy, this intersection is called the ‘North Pole’. The North Pole is a short list of tangible things that we can accomplish in the next year that move us in the direction of the North Star.

If things aren’t going as you planned, don’t despair… just take stock of where you are, where you want to go, and get your team together to develop a short list of actions that will start moving you down the field!

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