By Geoff De Weaver, CEO + Founder of Touchpoint Entertainment Inc. https://geoffdeweaver.com/
Move over Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Brian Chesky and Travis Kalanick – legendary US Sporting Coach Bill Walsh was a Pioneer in Innovation, Disruption and Paradigm Shifting. But, as you will see, there are many similarities between the 49ers and these companies: Facebook, Uber, Amazon, Tesla, Alibaba, Airbnb and WhatsApp today.
In the 1960’s -1980’s, William Ernest “Bill” Walsh was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and the Stanford Cardinal football team, during which time he popularized the West Coast offense.
Coach Walsh won three Super Bowl championships for the 49ers in eight years and built an organization enshrined in the press as “The Team of the ’80s” and visionary of ‘The West Coast Offense’
The West Coast Offense was created by Bill Walsh while he was an assistant coach with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 60’s and 70’s. When he became the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, he brought the system with him and developed it into one of the most successful NFL offenses. With the ‘West Coast Offense’, he forever ‘disrupted’ the NFL and the Sporting Industry.
Bill Walsh was fierce competitor. It was this competitiveness that drove him and his team to prove people wrong after starting 2-14. Two short seasons later, the 49ers shocked the world and won their first Super Bowl championship.
Bill Walsh was a true genius, innovator and winner when it came to building and sustaining a championship program and culture.
During his remarkable coaching career, Coach Walsh not only led the 49ers to three Super Bowl Championships as he transformed the game with his famous West Coast Offense; but he also spawned an impressive coaching legacy of over two dozen successful coaches including: Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith, Mike Holmgren, Mike McCarthy, Mike Shanahan, Mike Tomlin, and Jon Gruden.
Coach Walsh’s “nickel-and-dime” offense as it was called, was one that relied heavily on a method, ball-control passing game that utilized the backs and tight ends as primary receivers. It also didn’t just pass to set up the run, but replaced the run in an effort to manage situational football, a significant aspect of football making it even better.
The West Coast offense that Walsh created is a finesse offense that utilizes a short passing game designed to control the ball. This was, at that time, diametrically opposed to every other existing team and coach in the NFL.
In most conventional football offenses, the idea is to run the ball to draw the safeties and linebackers in closer to the line of scrimmage, thus opening up passing lanes for a vertical attack. The West Coast Offense does just the OPPOSITE, using a quick, horizontal passing attack to set up the running game.
The objective of the (Disruptive) West Coast Offense:
- Spread the defense out horizontally as well as vertically, forcing slower linebackers into coverage.
- Maintain possession of the football by utilizing a short passing attack almost as an extension of the running game.
- Create mismatches with speed, size, or number of receivers.
- Avoid tendencies that defenses can key on by throwing on any down and distance.
Bottom-line: this innovative, disruptive and finesse offense utilized a short passing game designed to control the ball.
Bill Walsh and the 49ers went on to win 3 Super Bowls by using the West Coast Offense with players like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. The philosophy of the West Coast is to emphasize short, horizontal passing plays that allow for a high completion percentage and a great run after the catch. Bill Walsh became the first ‘Unicorn’ in the NFL with this paradigm shifting, disruptive and innovative offense.
Throughout the years, the West Coast Offense has gone through many versions and modifications in the NFL and College ranks. When it was initially designed, it was never run out of the shotgun, but now it is used extensively that way. By 2015, all NFL teams run a version of the West Coast Offense. However, many teams today have modified the offense to be a run first, pass second offense.
Some of Bill Walsh’s Leadership Lessons today’s Disruptors have taken on board:
- Developing a Successful Team Starts with Developing a Successful Culture.
- Creating, communicating, implementing, and sustaining the right team culture is the key catalyst to lasting success.
- The Leader Sets the Tone.
- Develop and Empower Effective Locker Room Leaders.
- Competitors Find a Way to Win.
- Everyone is Accountable for Both Victory and Defeat.
There are many parallels between Uber and what Bill Walsh did in the NFL when he launched his West Coast Offense plan. Bill was a visionary, competitive, highly efficient, disciplined, and anticipatory as well as a multidimensional and extremely precise coach.
While Uber is a ride sharing, taxi service with drivers using their own cars to transport consumers much like a taxi would. And, it’s currently transforming the taxi industry globally. Uber has changed the game and disrupted the establishment in the process. They dared to challenge the ‘status quo’ and helped taxi users eliminate pain.
The key transformational ‘selling’ points include:
- Uber is generally cheaper to use than a taxi.
- You can watch the Uber car on its way to you via their App.
- Your destination is usually shown on the Uber map, often on a smartphone prominently displayed in front of the driver, including directions.
- When you hire Uber, you can choose which one based on distance to you or rating.
- A seamless payment experience using your credit card or PayPal, and no tip.
However, when Bill Walsh launched his new West Coast Offence in the NFL, he had significant opposition and critics. Uber is still facing this same kind of criticism as it expands around the world.
Airbnb is another modern disruptor and paradigm changer that transformed the Hotel Industry from ‘Art to Science’. And, like the San Francisco’s West Coast Offense – Airbnb changed the game in the Hotel Industry by:
- Innovating not only revenue management but also including distribution channel management, social media marketing, Web 2.0 or 3.0, Apps, Mobile Marketing. Call it what you like and more, but the hotel/accommodation industry has been transformed. Airbnb also understands their customers and their Customers’ Behavior and Decision Process better than the usual suspects e.g. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., etc.
- Innovative technology, mobile check-in, and seamless connectivity across platforms and devices are no longer the future, they are the present and part of Airbnb’s ‘tool-box’ of marketing weapons.
- Airbnb also excel at understanding, the Millennials who have become the fastest growing customer segment within the hospitality industry. Lobby bars, night clubs and hotel restaurants are wide open with combination work, play and eat/drink spaces designed with the Millennial customer in mind, i.e. one who is a “party of one” but “hanging out together.” Millennials also very vocal and communicate exceedingly well. They have no problems with speaking up. If what they are seeking is not handled to their liking, they will turn to: Twitter, Facebook, Yelp or TripAdvisor to voice their complaints or positive reactions! BUT, when they complain, because of social media, their voice is totally amplified and heard by hundreds of potential customers, not just close friends like the old days.
- Airbnb totally understand that “WOW” customer service is the only way to ensure repeat business.
Like Amazon, Facebook, Uber, Alibaba, and Airbnb – Bill Walsh was hugely successful and innovative because he developed and then implemented long-range strategic and personnel plans for the 49ers. He also focused on what other coaches had considered the minutiae of the game: minute-by-minute choreographing of practices, breaking down individual and group tactics into parts, and defining responsibilities and setting objectives for both players and coaches. It’s this type of attention to detail linked to the use of today’s technology that is accelerating today’s Unicorns at faster speeds than at any other time in history.
Perhaps Facebook, Amazon, Uber, etc also learned from Bill Walsh’s success, that the teams that have been most successful are the ones that have demonstrated the greatest commitment to their people.
“You need to have a plan even for the worst scenario. It doesn’t mean that it will always work.” ~ Bill Walsh
Even Mark Zuckerberg continues to disrupt and innovate despite having a company with 1.55 Billion users. Zuckerberg’s ambitious plan announced last year was to bring affordable Internet to the five billion people without it. He announced Internet.org, a partnership with six mobile companies to make the web accessible to everyone, and published a10-page roadmap for getting there. Zuckerberg and Facebook are continually innovating and even ‘disrupting’ themselves too. That’s how to LEAD and WIN today.
Finally, Bill Walsh, Football’s most innovative and successful coach revealed the philosophies and tactics that shaped the teams of the decade, the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, I believe his philosophy and tactics have helped shape the minds of all competitive people, including today’s digital disruptors and innovators. It’s also easy to see how – and why – this original Unicorn Coach of the San Francisco 49ers stirred, captivated and motivated today’s digital and tech disruptors by striving to challenge existing orthodoxy and establishment.
Win the Day!
Stay passionate and break the rules.
More About Geoff De Weaver:
Hailing originally from New York; Geoff De Weaver is the globally experienced entrepreneur, technology disruptor, trend hunter and keynote speaker behind Touchpoint Entertainment Inc. Geoff is an international business executive with 25+ years experience on five continents in the rapidly-changing media, digital, telecommunications, communications and entertainment industries.
Geoff has a global 25-year background of representing some of the world’s most iconic worldwide brands including: Coca Cola, IBM, IMG, P&G, Microsoft, Nike, British Airways, Wells Fargo, EA Sports, MasterCard, Shutterfly.com, EA.com, E*Trade, Nestle, Air France, AT&T, VISA, Unilever, EA.com, Ferrari, American Express, P&G, Trend Micro, Acer Computers, BMW, Shutterfly.com, Mars, Pfizer, TiVo, EarthLink Internet, American Express, Telstra, Weight Watchers and others.
As CEO + Founder of Touchpoint Entertainment Inc., the ‘next-generation’ Social Media Marketing, Big Data and Live Event Company – streams live to over 1.5 Billion fans globally and delivers authentic brand experiences worldwide. I help brands bridge the gap between CONTENT, COMMUNITY + COMMERCE. and delivers authentic brand experiences worldwide. Geoff also has comfort in operating in a truly globalized markets.
C-Level, Marketing Strategy, Digital and Communications Leader with Global Experience – including: US (New York City + San Francisco), Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Columbia, Finland, Hong Kong, Mexico, Netherlands, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, China, Indonesia and Canada. Geoff has served as a non-executive director, director and advisory boards.
- Geoff has served as a non-executive director, director and advisory boards
- Top 0.5% Worldwide on Twitter Globally
- Top 1% Influencer on LinkedIn and 32+ million network on LinkedIn worldwide
- Top 1% Most Viewed Profiles on LinkedIn (400+ million members)
- Geoff is a Digital Pioneer, Data-Driven, Entrepreneur, Business Coach + Innovator.
- Transformative, Innovation & Digital Disruption – CONTENT, COMMUNITY + COMMERCE
Feel free to get in touch with Geoff for further information:
- Personal Website: geoff.deweaver.com
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geoffdeweaver
- Twitter: @geoff_deweaver
- Touchpoint Entertainment Website: http://touchpoint.best/
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The Ten Commandments of the Digital Age https://geoffdeweaver.com/the-10-commandments-in-the-digital-age/