Act, Analyze, Adjust: Lessons from the Eagles’ Season Collapse

Sad male group of friends watching sports on TV at home

Image credit: macniak

“Fly Eagles Fly?” More like “Cry Eagles Cry!”

If you’re a fan of American Football, then you’re probably familiar with the abysmal collapse of my beloved Philadelphia Eagles. Two-thirds of the way through the season they had the best record in the league. 

And then, they collapsed. Disastrously. Like every soufflé I have ever tried to make. (Okay, to be honest, I have never made a soufflé. But if I did, it would collapse just as completely as the Eagles.)

They lost 6 of their last 7 games, limped into the playoffs, and got crushed in their first playoff game. 

Outside observers - analysts, media, fans, and me - could see what had happened. Other teams had figured out their formula, and the Eagles needed to do something different. 

When asked about this, head coach Nick Sirriani said, “...it’s not always about coming up with new plays and new wrinkles and new things like that. Sometimes it’s just getting better, and a lot of times it’s just getting better at your base stuff.”

What?! That really made me scratch my head. What you’ve been doing is clearly not working. And your solution is to…keep doing more of the same?

While I fully support mastering the fundamentals, there comes a time when you do have to come up with new plays, new wrinkles, new innovations. There is a time you need to analyze and adjust.

They never did, and as a result, a season that started with immense promise ended with a whimper. Like a once majestic bird falling from the sky, landing with a thud on the collective heads of Eagles fans everywhere.

What Does This Have to Do With You?

When I speak to companies and associations I talk about the principle of “Act-Analyze-Adjust” which is all about taking an action, seeing what happens, making an adjustment, then repeating the process as necessary. In the “Say, ‘Yes, And’ to Yourself” webinar I talked about the importance of regularly evaluating your effort and changing if needed. (By the way, if you click that link and sign up, you can still view a replay of that webinar!)

Having a plan is great, but whether you’re planning for an organization, or for yourself as an individual, it is critically important to have the self-awareness and flexibility to modify - or even abandon - a plan that isn’t working. 

How about you? Do you find yourself failing at a plan but your only adjustment is to “do it again, but this time better”?

If so, you need a better approach. Consider three questions:

  1. Do you have a plan?
  2. Are you taking regular action on that plan?
  3. Are you regularly evaluating how the plan is working and then being willing to adjust it as you go?

This is what the “yes, and” approach is all about. Taking action (sometimes by stepping into uncertainty), seeing what happens, then making an adjustment before repeating. 

It works for organizations. It works for individuals. It could have worked for the Eagles, if they had bothered to apply it.

And it most certainly can work for you. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!

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