When Parcells became ordinary

What drives success? This is a question that’s been fascinating me as of late. Is it luck? Is it talent? Is it environment? All the above?

I’m not a football fan at but I caught an interesting article about a week ago in the NYTs sports section on Bill Parcells record with and without his defensive assistant, Bill Belichick. The article notes:

During the 12 years that they worked together — with the Giants, the Patriots and the Jets — their teams went 117-73-1, winning 11 playoff games and 2 Super Bowls. …In his six seasons without Belichick — in New England and Dallas — Parcells has lost more games than he has won. His Belichick-less record, 44-47…

When they were partners, Belichick played the role of boy-genius tactician to Parcells’s visionary commander in chief. Parcells ran the team, held more sway over personnel moves, spoke to reporters and ultimately took responsibility for the results. Belichick drew the X’s and O’s on one side of the ball.

Are charismatic visionary figures in business, the military or politics often paired with a smart tactician? In my short career, I’ve observed first hand some very talented visionary types stumble because they didn’t have a strong tactician working to execute the vision. For example, Gates/Balmer were a formidable force for many years. But when Gates left the CEO position and turned over the vision to Balmer, Microsoft has been languishing. You also have to wonder who’s the brilliant tactician(s) behind Apple’s incredible come back. Because as brilliant as Jobs is, one person can’t carry an entire company. The example from the political world is of course Bush/Rove.

If you know any great pairings (visionary/tactician), leave me a note.


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