(670 The Score) Chicago Bears end-of-season press conferences are nothing if not valuable sources of business knowledge, and the latest version Wednesday may have been the best one yet — a veritable graduate class to teach us how to run a successful professional football team.
Over 87 minutes of chairman George McCaskey, president Ted Phillips, general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy, here’s some of what I learned.
Organizational accountability exists in inverse proportion to the number of times “accountability” is mentioned. The more you talk about it, the less there actually has to be, and that means it doesn’t matter how effective anyone is at their respective jobs.
Working together comfortably is far more important than working successfully pursuant to any objective standard for results, productivity or improvement. Collaboration is the ultimate goal in and of itself, and if it feels good, that means it is good, no matter what happens. It’s part of being a person of character.
So are humility and a lack of ego, which allow a person to know that they aren't good at something. This is supposed to be followed by getting better at it, which is more of a suggestion than a requirement. That’s part of “growing in the job,” regardless. Even after say, six years. So is using the passive voice when admitting something may have not worked out, as in “mistakes may have been made.”
Losing can be as important and valuable as winning, if you just look at it the right way. Sticking together and handling adversity are their own kind of victories, and it doesn’t matter if the issues endured are due to your own mistakes or incompetence. It’s not what got you into the tough spot, it’s how you make sure it’s all still fine.
That also comes with diffusing responsibility, a critical piece to this methodology. If everybody makes the decision, nobody has to answer for it! Always broaden everything by mentioning other names involved in a nebulous and needlessly complex “process.” Don’t provide any concrete details about it, however, but insist that there's good reason to trust it no matter how many times it has failed spectacularly. That’s just refinement.
Insist that culture is important and that you're certain that yours is ideal, despite being unable to define it properly or describe how it then relates to anything else of significance. Your culture is an asset because you think it is, because collaboration, remember.
When asked a direct question that may expose an inability or error, acknowledge it by saying “I understand the question.” Then don’t answer it. Instead ask yourself an unrelated hypothetical that leads to a desultory and meaningless response.
Burnish your credentials as a leader by telling people that you rely on the advice of direct competitors, despite the fact that they're incentivized to mislead you.
And lastly, always reassure your customers that you want the same things they do and that you hold your organization to the highest possible standard even as you make it clear that you're doing anything but that. This can still be done, apparently, despite the existence of a giant scoreboard that keeps track of it all and makes the truth available to everyone.
Dan Bernstein is the host of the Dan Bernstein Show on middays from 9 a.m. until noon on 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.