Last Monday Night was a disaster for Jets fans... a tale of two organizations. A game in which there was so much hope and optimism, quickly turned into a nightmare. There is a book I just finished reading titled "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, and the book is about research done to showcase how certain companies have made the good to great leap. It is a detailed book that lays out certain concepts used that has allowed for great companies to distance themselves from others. These concepts can not only be used for big businesses but also for your own life and to other organizations. I decided to take my favorite concept known as "The Bus" and use it to compare the two organizations we saw play that Monday Night. Here is what I came up with:
It is a very interesting task trying to compare NFL organizations, teams seem to pride themselves on their culture, their identity and what makes them better than any of the other 31 teams. However, there is just one problem, no team seems to, or can emulate the one organization that has done arguably everything right for the last 18 years, the New England Patriots. The New England Patriots have made the good-to-great jump in the NFL, and it is clear to see, but what has been even more clear is how their biggest "rival" has done the complete opposite. Last Monday after getting absolutely blown out by the Patriots, the New York Jets showed the nation that they are an organization that does not ask themselves "who" but rather asks themselves "what" or "why", a clear misconception of "The Bus" concept laid out by Jim Collins in Good To Great, a concept that every organization that has made the good to great leap has mastered.
The Bus, as discussed in the book is the idea that in order to be a great company, an organization must figure out who should be apart of their team, and what role they should play a part in. After an organization has figured out who to have on the bus and what role they will have, the organization can then focus on their strategic plan and focus on what they need to do to achieve their ultimate goal. An organization needs to get "the right people on the right seats."(Collins) There has been no better example of an organization that has been able to get the right people on the bus in the right seats than the New England Patriots. Year in and year out they are a Super Bowl favorite, not just a contender, a favorite, they have built a championship breeding culture by following this concept laid out by Jim Collins. Now, obviously the New England Patriots do not hand the Good To Great book out at the start of training camp but over the last 18 years they have made decisions that have emulated the moves that the companies Collins researched have made. The journey for the Patriots began back in 2000. When Robert Kraft traded for Head Coach Bill Bilichek. Kraft knew he was the right person for the Patriots bus. You do not trade for the rights to a Head Coach in the NFL asking yourself "what do I need to take this organization to the next step", you are instead asking yourself "who". Robert Kraft knew Bill was his guy. From that move, everything else had a trickle-down effect, Robert Kraft brought in Bill placed him in the Head Coach seat knowing he was the right guy and then Bill Bilichek had the same demeanor. When Bill Bilichek builds a coaching staff, scouts players, signs players and trades for players he is never asking the "what type of player is going to work in our scheme", he is asking "who is going to come in here and do the job I need them to do, who is going to follow the Patriot way?". That is the difference. Of course, this is football and not every organization is going to be perfect, not even the Patriots, they have brought in players and have placed them in seats on their bus that have not worked out, the most recent example being Antonio Brown. Antonio Brown did not fit within the Patriots model, so they removed him from the bus gracefully. Another key aspect of the concept Jim Collins explains. Collins states, "help people exit with dignity and grace so that, later, the vast majority of people who have left your bus have positive feelings about your organization.". This is especially true with the Patriots, Antonio Brown is a star wide receiver, but did not fit in with the Patriots, they shipped him out of town and has the feeling around that organization changed? Of course not, they are going to be a championship contending team with or without Antonio Brown because it is not the players that make the Patriots who they are, it is their culture, the winning culture that has been built by having the right people in the right seats on their bus. They stick with that discipline no matter how dire the circumstances are, unlike the New York Jets.
As noted above, last Monday cemented the fact that the Patriots are the right way to run a football organization and the Jets are not. As the Patriots sit with their nice Super Bowl winning bus up in New England, with all the right people in the right seats, the Jets bus sits on exit 16w on the NJ Turnpike with two flats and no seats for anyone to sit in. The problems with the Jets start with the owner. Mentioned before was the brilliant move Robert Kraft made trading for the rights of Bill Bilichek because he was asking himself "who do I need to lead this team", the Jets on the other hand do the complete opposite. Instead of asking who is going to lead their team they always ask themselves what we need. After last season the team fired Todd Bowles, a vicious cycle of getting a head coach and firing him 4 years later. Owner, Christopher Johnson had yet another chance to find someone who can fix the Jets bus and lead them into competent football. You think he did that? No. Instead of focusing on who, Chris Johnson listened to all the outside noise and made a hire based on what he thought the Jets needed. He hired Adam Gase on the basis of what this team needed to be, not who it needed to be. Johnson found himself asking for outside help to hire the coach, consultants like Peyton Manning, who yes, might know how to win football games as a Quarterback but knows nothing about the New York Jets. The Jets focused more on the direction the bus was going this year rather than the people who were going to be taking the ride. So when the two busses met at MetLife on Monday Night, you saw a blowout, a rout that left the Jets quarterback seeing "ghosts" by the New England Patriots because over the last 18 years they have had the right people in the right seats year after year.
Another aspect that needs to be watched closely when it comes to analyzing the Jets organization and how they clearly do not follow the bus concept, is how they get people off the bus. The Jets are always so quick to fire and hire anybody, especially the one leading the team. They seem to have a new GM and a new Coach every 3-4 years. You do not have to be a genius to realize that is not how to build a winning culture. Any player that is a free agent is made aware of the toxic people that surround the Jets organization. There is no stability, no confidence that what you are believed to be signing up for with actually come to fruition. The Jets are also so quick to throw people on their bus without realizing they have no seats for them. For example, stars like CJ Mosley and Leveon Bell, these are two players that should be on a team like the Patriots, a team with a direction. You cannot have do your job, work hard players on a bus with no leader and no clear direction, it simply does not work, and the results show.
For years and years, the Jets have shared a division with the best team in football, the best run organization in football but yet have learned nothing. I believed the bus concept really depicts the difference between these two organizations. The Patriots were not always great, back before the Kraft, Bilichek era the Patriots were as confused as any other organization in the NFL. They have made the good to great leap and there has been a large sample size justifying that. Yes, it has not been 30 years like in some Collin's research, but 18 years dominating the NFL is sufficient enough to make that declaration. These two organizations showcase how if you do not find the right people for the bus first, followed by removing the wrong people, and then finding the right seats for the right people seats, then no matter what direction you take you cannot be a great organization.