Saturday, February 22, 2014

Here Comes The Boom! An NFL Champion Illustrates Key Business Analysis Skills

Perhaps you are a long way from wearing a 12th Man jersey - even further away from sitting in a dedicated Richard Sherman cheering section.  In fact, you may be a Peyton Manning admirer who wants nothing else to do with things that go boom! Even so, if you have an ounce of passion for the game of football, you must acknowledge that Richard Sherman - a key component of the Seattle Seahawks' Legion of Boom (LOB) - is a defensive force with which to be reckoned - arguably the best cornerback currently playing in the National Football League (NFL).

Leading the way for his pass-resistant LOB brothers in 2013, Sherman finished first in the league with 8 interceptions3.  He contributed to the Seahawks' achievement of fewest passing yards allowed in the NFL2.   Amongst a host of other accomplishments, Sherman closed out the 2013 season by earning his first Super Bowl ring.

Sherman's success is no accident.  In addition to his uncompromising work ethic (with regard to the physical components of the game), the Stanford graduate includes hours of detailed analysis in his pre-game regimen.   On a special segment of ESPN's show NFL Turning Point, Dan Patrick shared an interview where Sherman describes the importance of detailed analysis.

"... I'm a decent athlete, but my tape study and meticulous attention to detail are what makes me a good ball player ...”

Sherman went on to describe that his analysis includes calling cornerbacks from other teams.  He consults with these defensive backs to better understand their personal experience with receivers he will soon face.

While Sherman places great emphasis on analysis before the game, his ability to conduct on the field, game-time analysis and make adjustments is equally impressive.  In a special appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Ryan Clark acknowledged this ability.  Clark explained that Sherman (and his teammates) studied before the game to understand what the Denver Broncos were likely to do in the Super Bowl.  He also described how they were able to make assessments (during the game) to “catch on” to some of the audible calls1.

As business analysis practitioners, we certainly appreciate the analytical style of Richard Sherman and his LOB brothers.   In addition to conducting a sort of pre-game analysis, we too must be able to conduct game-time analysis and make adjustments, where needed.  For example, it is important for practitioners to understand stakeholders early on. Whether by talking to the actual stakeholder, consulting with other practitioners who have worked with them, or some other method, we need to understand certain things about our stakeholders,
including (but not limited to) the stakeholder's 
- View of the problem or opportunity at hand
- Expectations of a solution
- Anticipated level of involvement with the initiative

Experience has shown us that whether a seasoned veteran or a rookie, a practitioner is not likely to determine everything about a stakeholder before an initiative is in full swing.  Furthermore, things that are true about a stakeholder in the beginning may actually change during the solution delivery lifecycle.  Like Richard Sherman and his LOB brothers, we must then be able to conduct game-time analysis.  If our stakeholder makes an audible call (let’s say their expectations change), then we not only need to be in tune with the stakeholder enough to acknowledge it, but we must also have a mindset that allows us to properly account for the change in expectations.  Properly accounting for the change may or may not include meeting the expectation during the current increment.  The key is to acknowledge the change and make a conscious decision (regarding if/when the adjusted expectations can be met).  

Do you want to learn more about the various aspects of analysis?  Well, here comes the boom!  Join the 2014 Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts (PW&WCBA) conference in Seattle, WA.  All are welcome – even if you aren’t wearing a 12th Man jersey!

Belinda Henderson, CBAP, PSM

President and Founder, Dramatic for Christ Productions, Inc.
Blogger, Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts

1 First Take -
2 Pompei, Dan (2014-01-17). "Seattle Seahawks' Legion of Boom Is Pure, Old-School Football at Its Finest". Bleacher Report.
3"NFL Player Defense Statistics - 2013, Passes Intercepted Leaders". ESPN. 2013-12-30.

1 comment:

Lara Padgett said...

This is true engagement and community spirit!! Reaching out and networking to learn more in an effort to understand and meet expectations to drive results. Great Article!! :-)