Ready to win: What police, companies and the rest of us can learn from the Patriots — Steven Spear

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Steven Spear

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Steven Spear

From The Conversation

More than a week after becoming football legend, the Super Bowl’s last-minute interception continues to prompt second guessing: did Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll make a bad call when he ordered Russell Wilson throw the ball? Did the quarterback pass poorly?

Or are we focusing on the wrong things altogether?

First, let’s look at the now (in)famous play.

Running the ball, like many Monday-morning quarterbacks have advocated, would have resulted in a massive pileup at the line, and the receiver Wilson spotted in the end zone didn’t appear well covered.

That is until Patriots defender Malcolm Butler emerged as if out of nowhere for the game-saving and Super Bowl-winning interception.

Butler didn’t just get lucky. From a position nearly 20 yards from where he caught the ball, Butler got to the right spot, in about two seconds, at precisely the right moment. It was as if he knew in advance exactly what was going to happen and bolted there like a bullet. Where did he get such clairvoyance and what can we learn from that?

Turning near-catastrophe into triumph

Clearly, the Pats were ready. They prepped by watching countless Seahawks’ game-videos and dissecting plays, using those insights to develop and practice the right counter-moves. With that level of analysis and preparation ahead of the game, Butler didn’t have to merely react in a high-stakes situation. He was able to preempt a touchdown when the stakes were high and convert potential catastrophe into victory.

This is not just about football. The high-speed learning techniques that helped the Pats are being used elsewhere by companies, government agencies and hospitals to not only succeed but improve and save lives as well.

I call this high-velocity learning, and my two decades of research has shown it’s this skill that separates the winners – the most effective and efficient in any field and those able to deliver way more value, way more quickly, with much lower cost and effort – from the rest of the pack.

Read the full post at The Conversation.

Steven Spear is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and at the Engineering Systems Division at MIT.

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