It’s Called Indecision… I Think?

Aug 17, 2010 6 Comments by

By now everyone who follows football knows all they need to know about the infamous indecision of Brett Favre.  After a long career in Green Bay that included a Super Bowl win, the future Hall of Fame quarterback announced a tearful retirement a couple years ago only to come back and play a hot and cold season with the Jets before retiring again.

The many faces of Brett Favre: A Young Champion - The 1st Tearful Farewell - A So-So Stint in the Big Apple - A Triumphant Return

He waffled for weeks before joining the Vikings last year and took them within an eyelash of their first Super Bowl in over 30 years. The drama was so intriguing that Favre’s football accomplishments were often overshadowed by his antics as a comedic poster boy for indecision.  He even did a commercial where he parodied his famous weakness while buying a new television.  It came as no surprise when the drama repeated itself this summer.

Hmmm... Yes, I think I want that one. Naaahh... Wait a minute...

What can change teams learn from Brett Favre’s annual drama? I suggest there are at least a few lessons here – and how you apply them depends completely on the kind of team you already have and how tolerant your culture is regarding what I call “the Superstar Effect”.  Consider that:

  1. Sometime the superstar is worth the hassle. I’m a huge Vikings fan and I don’t mind the mess because I think they might win a few more games with a wily veteran than they would with either of their other unproven quarterbacks at the wheel.  Starbucks brought back their founding CEO Howard Schultz in an effort to turn around negative numbers.  That worked out OK…

    Is this the image you want your team to be known for?

  2. Sometimes the talent upgrade IS NOT worth the hassle. Think of Terrell Owens, Randy Moss or Barry Bonds.  Each was such a distraction at some point in their career that their teams felt better off letting their prima donna go and focusing on the team aspect of the game. Seriously consider if your change approach can bear the weight of a superstar before you make a talent upgrade that comes with a huge hassle factor.
  3. Decide how much indecision your change team can handle. Favre’s teammates have commented on how quickly he makes great on-field decisions during games in a way that runs absolutely counter to his off-season, off-field mulling.  Set an expectation for when you will tolerate a thoughtful approach and when you will demand sharp decisions from your team members.
  4. Sometimes you’ll want to let “Manny will be Manny”.  Each team member has a personality and sometime your players will approach life in unique ways that cannot be explained.  In baseball they call that “Manny being Manny” in honor of Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Manny Ramirez who is known for his

    ...just Manny being Manny

    eccentric behavior and clutch hitting.  I have to think that some of Favre’s indecision is based on the reality of a 40+ year-old veteran hesitating before getting beat up playing a young man’s game.  Some of it is surely fueled by a mix of ego and the NFL / TV hype machine that would turn anything into “news” if they could make money from it – so as long it it isn’t too disruptive, you may want to dismiss your superstar’s behavior with a grain of salt.

So think hard before inviting a superstar to join the change team. Consider if your team can live without them – and consider if you can live with them.  Then make a decision doggone it! :o)


Questions for Chatter:

  1. What insights do you draw from Brett Favre’s indecision? Is he really conflicted or just messing with people for fun?
  2. Have you ever been a part of team that bent over backwards to get a superstar and had the move blow up in their faces?
  3. Do you know a superstar in your field who is so talented that they would be worth a bit of hassle just to have them on your team?

Click on “leave a comment” below to add your opinion to the mix…

Shoot, I’ll even listen to Packer fans!  -S

Change Agent Skills, Change Execution, Change Leadership, Team Dynamics

About the author

I help people and teams succeed with big changes... never a dull moment!

6 Responses to “It’s Called Indecision… I Think?”

  1. Joe says:

    Brett loves attention, that’s something to which we can all attest. When Haynesworth’s failed conditioning tests wer eating up the headlines, it only took one seemingly apocryphal text message to grab the media.

    The current arguments tend to revolve around one question: “Is Brett worth the hassle?”

    Sure, he’s a first ballot HOF’er, but at what value does that hold when a team has to deal with reports of Favre not trusting Childress

    Of course, in athletics, pure talent and experience might be enough to surpass all distractions (see: TO, Ochocinco, Moss, and Vick 2.0)

    How does this correlate in business, though?

    As an economics geek, I really appreciate Pat’s reference to the opportunity cost of bringing on a superstar. What does a business give up to hire the Favre of project management? The Ochocinco of marketing? Every acquisition is different, and the risks of hiring such an individual should be acknowledged among the entire team.

  2. Steve says:

    Thanks for the inputs! I wonder if the team dynamic is any different this year with Favre rather openly challenging the coaching staff about play selection, etc.?

  3. Gary says:

    It’s a crap shoot to have an ageing superstar in there, but this one won’t even step aside to allow backups live rep.s toward the end of blow out games to stay sharp, or even run the plays called by the coaches. Favre’s huge down side is not worth potential. Ask any Cheese head; they are very happy to have moved on to Aaron Rodgers in Cheddarland. A man’s gotta know his limitations.

  4. pat yankowich says:

    I don’t think the ‘superstar’ arrived in a private jet with an escort, but the maintenance cost is high! One needs to consider the benefit vs the opportunity cost of maintenance…not to mention, damage control!

  5. Steve says:

    I wonder how many of the superstars we meet at work arrive on private jets with an escort?

  6. Ben says:

    It’s a little hard to believe that Favre would be the type to use this indecision to jerk the media/fans around, mainly based on my view of the acceptable behavior for someone of his age and professional status. I do agree with the notion that he may be questioning whether or not it may be time to hang up the cleats to avoid further battering or injury. While I may feel that Favre just doesn’t like training camp, it could just be that the additional strain of those practices will add to the cumulative stress of the regular season.

    You raise an interesting question in regards to the amount of attitude that a team will put up with to benefit from the expertise of the “superstar”. You have to wonder what the efficacy of a group will be if they are hung up on one particular attitude or demeanor, regardless of the agreed upon level of patience was that you suggested. When you’re in that situation, you’re potentially pushing people to be more patient than they typically would be, which places more emphasis on having a tight knit team with members who can step in to alleviate tensions and remind that person of how the pain might be worth it to achieve the goals of the project. This also sounds like something that will come into play when you’re “letting Manny be Manny”. Allowing the team to become comfortable with one another and the foibles that come with differing personalities before problems arise is worth spending time on as you build your change team.

    Excellent post, Cap’n!

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