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Issue 367 - Audible - Ready: Have you practiced your backup plan? (Don Shula Part Three)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 9 Issue 367
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Don Shula led the Miami Dolphins to two Super Bowl victories and the only perfect season in the history of the National Football League. He led his teams to six Super Bowls. He had only two losing seasons in his 33-year career as a head coach in the NFL (1963-1995). Sula holds the NFL record for most career wins as a head coach with 347.
As a Coach in Miami, Shula's teams were 28-8 in regular season games started by a backup quarterback. His teams always practiced their backup plan. Shula calls this being "Audible- Ready". In his book with Ken Blanchard: The Little Book of Coaching, Shula discusses the importance of the idea:
"An audible is a verbal command that tells your players to substitute new assignments for the ones they were prepared to perform. Part of readiness is the ability to shift your game plan at will. Prepare well with a plan - then expect the unexpected and be ready to change that plan. As a leader, you must preserve the right to change plans - even to change them at the last moment as circumstances may dictate.
There is no point in sticking with a game plan that's not working. The sun does not rise and fall based on one person's judgment. Effective coaches are continually out there scanning for data and advice that will make their decisions more intelligent. Good coaches listen to their staff, and once they've heard all of the important information, they're prepared to make the best decisions under any circumstance.
Audibles are not last-minute orders dreamed up out of nowhere. They're strategies your team knows about and has practiced thoroughly before the call is made. In the fast-paced technological world of today, organizations must be "audible ready" - not only to change a play or two, but to change the entire game plan if necessary."
Don Shula prepared thoroughly and then he would ask "What if?" and plan and practice for those contingencies. When his two star quarterbacks got hurt in the same game and he had to put a running back in at quarterback and change from a passing offense to a running offense, the change was seamless and they won the game because he had practiced the backup plan. Shula had already asked and prepared for the situation because he had asked "What if both our quarterbacks get hurt?"
If Shula was running a business he would ask: "What if our computer system crashes, the power grid fails, our battery backup system doesn't work and our phone system goes down? What exactly are we going to do?" Once he documented the plan in detail, he would make the team members practice it. That's being Audible-ready! When you're caught surprised or flat-footed you don't have the time to properly evaluate, and you end up making bad decisions. Shula never let this happen.
Have you practiced your backup plans? Are you flat footed or Audible- Ready?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise



The Doubtful To-Morrow

Whenever I walk through God's Acres of Dead
I wonder how often the mute voices said:
'I will do a kind deed or will lighten a sorrow
Or rise to a sacrifice splendid- to-morrow.'

I wonder how many fine thoughts unexpressed
Were lost to the world when they went to their rest;
I wonder what beautiful deeds they'd have done
If they had but witnessed to-morrow's bright sun.

Oh, if the dead grieve, it is not for their fate,
For death comes to all of us early or late,
But their sighs of regret and their burdens of sorrow
Are born of the joys they'd have scattered to-morrow.

Do the friends they'd have cheered know the thoughts of the dead?
Do they treasure to-day the last words that were said?
What memories would sweeten, what hearts cease to burn,
If but for a day the dead friends could return!

We know not the hour that our summons shall come;
We know not the time that our voice shall be dumb,
Yet even as they, to our ultimate sorrow,
We leave much that's fine for that doubtful to-morrow.

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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