Lessons from the NFL on an Agile Workforce


Change is a word that can quickly cause chaos and panic within an unprepared business. Between the weight of uncertainty that it carries and the pressure to make fast adjustments, understanding how to handle change is what will make or break a business. The key to adapting to change is to create an agile workforce. With the Super Bowl on all of our minds, we’re taking a note or two from the kings of agility: football players.

What Businesses Can Learn from Football Players About Agile Workforces

What football players understand that many businesses don’t is that regardless of how much you prepare, your plans are not going to execute smoothly 100% of the time. There will always be an unexpected event that changes how you need to execute the original plan to stay aligned with the overall strategy. When a running back doesn’t make the first down on a third-and-one, the team doesn’t just give up and blow the game; they develop a different course of action.

Planning for contingencies is what makes a team agile. They know what could happen and what to do when it does. When that third-and-one situation rolls around, they have tactical options available. Do they go for it and run the risk of turning the ball over? Do they play it safe and punt it? Or do they shoot for the field goal and (hopefully) get some points? Whichever course of action they decide on, they’ve prepared and are ready to react to that change quickly.

Football players train for days on end, crafting their skills and learning the ins-and-outs of each possible play. By game time, they know how they’re going to execute the overall strategy, and what they’re going to do if it doesn’t work. Everything they do, they do intentionally – from the kickoff to the final touchdown and every tackle in between.

As a business, when you encounter change, think of it as a first-and-ten situation. You have four attempts to get that next first down. That means four chances to try the different tactics that will help you stay in line with your strategy and reach the result that you had initially planned.

The best teams aren’t the teams that come in, just believing their strategy will get them the win. They’re the teams that come in prepared to make the tough decisions needed to come out on top. At Afterburner, we can help give you the framework you need to take your team from good to great, and so you can see your team succeeding consistently.

Reach out to us here to start building the agile workforce your business needs.