Business is filled with sports analogies and metaphors. How many times have you heard a manager say "We're going for the win" or "This is a homerun" or "We need everyone to step up to the plate." Hopefully you don't hear things like "We've got no other options...this is a Hail Mary"

But that's surface level thinking on sports. The bigger connections between sports and business should come from team communication and dynamics, drive for performance and creating the kind of cohesive culture where teammates and employees feel supremely connected and committed to achieving a defined, clear goal.

So in that vein, let's look at one of the biggest sporting events in the world, which is just days away--The Super Bowl. What should we learn from the exceptional talents and team dynamics of the last two that remain standing?

Why did the Patriots and the Seahawks make it when others failed? And don't tell me it's because of a few deflated footballs. They made it on the exact formula that any team or growing organization can follow.

Here it is:

  1. Get the right kind of players on your team. Notice I didn't say the best talent period. The Pro Bowl is the NFL's All-Star game...you know which team had the most players make that team? The Denver Broncos. They're not in the Super Bowl even though they have arguably the most talent (this is a painful topic for my Emergenetics International colleagues and fellow Inc. writers Dr. Geil Browning and Morgan Browning--sorry!). Neither the Seahawks nor Patriots were even the second-most talented team by this account. While they may not have the absolute best in the game, they have highly talented players at key positions for their team. The Seahawks prioritize defense...and four of their five Pro Bowlers are defensive players. The Patriots rely on great offensive threats, which is not surprising that their QB (or team leader) and highest scoring receiver (think of your best salesperson) make the Pro Bowl.

Apply this to your own business or team--Do you know what kind of employee you need to make the biggest impact for every position you have? Hire top talent for your organization, not necessarily just the top talent. If you're looking for an database engineer, it's not enough to simply get the smartest engineer out there...this person needs to fit with your culture, they need to execute the kind of engineering that your company needs (not someone else's company).

  1. Have a game plan and stick with it. To make it to the big game, these teams needed to win a vast majority of games in a grueling regular season and make it through three rounds of playoffs against the best in the NFL. That's incredibly hard to do, and it doesn't come without setbacks or doubt or second-guessing. At one point in the season the Patriots were 2-2 and fans and pundits were saying the dominance was over...that Tom Brady was finished. What happened next? The Patriots stuck to the same formula that has won them three Super Bowls and reeled off 7 straight wins.

This doesn't mean that you should never change course. Both Pete Carroll (coach of the Seahawks) and Bill Belichick (coach of the Patriots) are masters of adaptation. Both even came back from improbable odds in the Playoffs this year by executing incredibly innovative and risky strategies that were needed to come from behind. However, looking back over the season, it's the same strategy game-over-game that has fueled their success. Remain focused on your vision, and roll with the punches as they come.

What does this mean for your team or company? Well, if you're a leader, it's your job to know the kind of talent you have, the environment you need to create in order for individuals to succeed, and communicating the strategy that makes you unlike anyone else out there. Define your strategy, prove it, and execute it over and over again. Be aware of the small moderations that can push you over the top. If you are a retailer who's determined that the go-to-market strategy is to push e-commerce and online sales, don't instantly become a bricks-and-mortar store at the first sign of trouble. But you may need to study user patterns and provide a better marketing angle to get people to your site. It's a strong overall strategy mixed with adaptability.

So as you go into Super Bowl Sunday, think through when the Super Bowl for your business is...and take a lesson from the best teams in football.

My pick by the way? Seahawks 24 Patriots 20