The Pursuit of Sustainable Success

After the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl win last Sunday, there has been much discussion about whether Bill Belichick is the greatest coach of all time because of his team’s incredible record — 16 consecutive winning seasons in an era where the salary cap has made staying on top nearly impossible. How has Belichick been able to do it? Granted, it doesn’t hurt that he has a great quarterback in Tom Brady but Belichick has won even when Brady has been injured or could not play. This is especially interesting to me as a Philadelphia Eagles fan whose team hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1960. The Eagles have had some good years but not the level of success the Patriots have achieved. What is the magic formula?

Sustainable success is often talked about but rarely achieved because when a team wins, it is difficult to keep players’ and coaches’ egos in check. When a team loses, everyone bails from the group. In today’s NFL, winning is simply hard week in and week out. So what can we learn from Belichick and his team that can be applied to mortgage banking?

In the fall of 2016, USA Today gathered three Hall of Fame football coaches to discuss the Patriot’s success before this year’s game. The coaches identified three key factors that separate the Patriots from other teams:

  1. Coach’s selection of players. The organization hires not only talented players but the players must be a cultural fit with the coach’s view of what it takes to win in football today. According to Belichick, winning is all about a team effort. If you are just about yourself the Patriots will pass on you.
  2. Coach’s system is flexible. It is Belichick’s belief that nothing stays the same in the game. As a result, he identifies what is needed for the player to be successful during any given game. If you win the current game and play your best, the long-term goal of a Super Bowl win will happen on its own. To make this philosophy work, he is an expert at adjusting to a player’s strengths and how it applies to a particular game.
  3. Coach is innovative. Playing to one’s strengths does not mean that the qualities required today will always be the same. Again, the game changes and over the years, Belichick adjusts his plays accordingly whether offense or defense. He is forward thinking and not reliving the past glory.

These conclusions might seem overly simplistic but Belicheck’s track record proves they work: hire the right individual for today’s competition; determine their strengths and adjust the game plan to the current game by innovating plays that bring out their best performance.

Mortgage banking would do well to take a page from Belicheck’s playbook to ensure future success. Unfortunately, there are common industry falsehoods that can prevent an organization from taking these steps. In my opinion, the beliefs that stall sustainable success are:

  1. Recruiting  warm bodies to make corporate goals.
  2. Expecting originators to develop sales skills on their own with no corporate training support or accountability.
  3. Failure to adapt to new technology and recognize that the consumer wants a faster, better quality customer experience.

Sustainable success requires a commitment by managers to lead as Belichick does with the Patriots. His three strategies are a good place to start.