Football yoga in action. The Seahawks did pigeon pose, downward dog, and child’s pose. Get your om on!

Happy New Year everyone!

With working as part of a team, you’ve got to be able to do your part well and work together, no matter the circumstances. I’ve learned teamwork from sports and have applied it to my team’s process in design thinking. Here’s an example of great teamwork in action that I got to witness on New Years’ Day:

Yesterday, I went to my first NFL game at Levi Stadium, which was surprisingly way more fun than watching on TV. The 49ers were playing the Seahawks. First off, I am a huge Seahawks fan, but I admit that they do have flaws. However, I wanted to highlight my takeaways from this game on an example of good teamwork in action.

Get warmed up
What I noticed was during the warmups was that the Seahawks took their time. They all did their stretches together, slowly. They even did some yoga poses, such as downward dog and ninja pose (I’m blanking on the “official names”). I’d heard that Pete Carroll, the Seahawks coach, did make his team do yoga, but seeing it in action was very surprising, in a good way. The team also took their time with practice, such as kicking, throwing and running.

For an individual, this would be the equivalent to starting your day right with some form of meditation / clearing your mind, in order to be able to focus on your main goal of the day, along with accomplishing the many small tasks and actions that it takes to get there. I meditate every morning and prime my day with prime your vibe, which is doing affirmations with achievable outcomes/steps to accomplish your goals.

Applying this to the corporate environment, this would be similar to doing a kickoff meeting for a project. You get everyone on the same page with the same data, work out ideas following design thinking, such as brainstorming, research, etc.

Acknowledge your supporters (customers)
When the Seahawks got close to the side lines, they’d always run close and wave or do something to show their supporters that they appreciate them being there. We are their customers, after all.

It’s good as the bearers of design thinking to show appreciation for our customers, such as sending a fun thank you email. Here’s an example from CD Baby, an online music distributor:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day.

We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

 See the full letter from CD Baby.

Be focused on the moment 
I saw Pete Carroll, known for pacing back and forth along the side line, watching every move. I swear he didn’t even blink. He was solely focused on what was happening in the moment, analyzing every move, and creating strategies. You could see him making strategies when he’d crouch down, like one of the players on the field. He was totally applying stoicism in action and pivoting, two tools that I recommend that we use in designing solutions to human centered problems.

I also saw that the Seahawks players were focused on doing their jobs and doing them to the best of their ability. Even if one of the players screwed up, they didn’t let it shake them, they didn’t let anxiety set in. Trust me, there were a few times they did screw up during this game and I thought the 49ers had a good chance of even winning at one point.

Richard Sherman, corner back of the Seahawks, doing his job.

Richard Sherman, corner back for the Seahawks, filled in for returning punts at todays’ game. Every time he was sent out there, he caught the ball. Every time he was out on the field, he was focused on doing his job well, which was to have an indestructible defense as corner back.

Be a good sport
I noticed that both the Seahawks and the 49er players were being nice to each other. They would help someone from the opposite team get up if they fell down. Despite playing such a rough and dangerous sport, the players on both teams showed respect for each other (overall). I know there are some issues in the past between the teams, but it was nice to see those acts of kindness today.

Love what you do
I could see this clearly with most of the players from the Seahawks. When you enjoy your job, you do great work. You’re able to come up with creative solutions in high stress situations, such as on the football field, with a real deadline with the clock counting down. And New Year’s Day was a great example of their team doing great work. That’s applying your why factor in action.

In the corporate environment, you want to be able to enjoy your work. Many times, there will be high intensity on a project, and you’ll need to be able to come up with creative solutions based on precision, strategy and passion. Bring that enjoyment to your projects and your team to inspire solutions that will really help people. That’s how collaboration works and how innovation is reborn again and again.

Did you watch the Seahawks/ 49ers game? What are examples of teamwork that you saw that can be applied to design thinking? Share below!

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