Monday, December 29, 2008

A Strategy Just Crazy Enough To Work - The A11 Offense

Yesterday, I had a driveway moment as I listened to Weekend America talk about high school football. I'm not much of a football fan, but this story really caught my attention:

The Piedmont High Football team in California was getting a regular wallop in its division from larger schools and competitors - until its coaches brainstormed a new and brilliant offensive strategy. Taking advantage of some loopholes in high school ball rules, they devised a crazy new offense called the A-11 that takes advantage of the "scrimmage kick" formation.

Here's how it looks:

From high above in the bleachers, the basic A-11 formation looks something like this: Three receivers are out wide to the right, three receivers are wide to the left. There's a center with two players on either side. Two quarterbacks are in the shotgun formation, seven yards behind the center, who snaps the ball. So there are players spread out the entire width of the field, eliminating the tight offensive line formation often used in football.

Like I said, I don't know much about football - but even I know that having two players poised to be quarterback is unusual.

The overall strategy is simple:

We are going to make the defense think about what's happening. It doesn't matter to us whether they think a trick play is coming because it is - on every play something different is going to be coming at you. We want to make one of those great plays that wins the football game on every play.

And here's the thing - the strategy works. Sure, the team doesn't always win - but it's leveled the playing field in a serious way, so that even on nights the team loses, they are competing.

To me, this seems like a wonderful case study for businesses to examine. Rather than lamenting about how Wal-Mart or Amazon is bigger and stronger, why not look closely at the rules and see where you can play smarter. Why not "make one of those great plays that wins the football game on every play?"

Listen to the story here:

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