Football season is in full swing in the United States, and one phrase you’ll hear over and over again is that the best defense is a good offense. This analogy isn’t only applicable to American football, however. Any competitive sport has a few takeaways for the corporate world. Afterall, what makes a good game could make even better business.

As we get the ball rolling the first thing to note that the general idea of this phrase is to be proactive. Strong offensive action will preoccupy the opposition, hindering its ability to counterattack and ultimately leading to a strategic advantage.

Defense Alone Cannot Win

For some situations, being on the defensive is exactly what’s needed. In fact, it’s often used to describe a driving method in which you’re always on the alert and ready to take on anything. Defense is not the enemy of good business strategy, but simply a part of it. However, with a pure defense-focused strategy, the opponent can more easily gain control. Going on the offense forces them to react to your moves, placing control of the situation back in your court. Opponents do not need to be a physical, literal, competitor either. Sometimes the opponent is simply the industry around you.

Team Building

Without a stellar team in the right positions, the best strategy in the world means nothing. Putting a quarterback in a linebacker’s role could also be disastrous. It is crucial to put the right people in the right role to achieve the long term objective of the team whether that’s the Super Bowl or a sales goal.

A strong team is also interdependent. Each and every team member is confident they can rely on others to fulfil their roles to their maximum potential. The offense will score sales and move the organization forward. The defense will push back competitors and protect the environment necessary to win.

Call a Timeout

Football is an intensely strategic game. It is so heavily reliant on strategy that the game pauses for thirty seconds between each play to allow both teams to pull together or to pick the best strategy for the next play. Many times, key team players have headsets within their helmet for coaches to communicate strategic commands between plays. The parallel is clear – take breaks to assess your strategic initiatives and continuously communicate with your team, from the top down. Review your strategy for mutual understanding and focus. Every step forward should be calculated to create the perfect balance of thinking, planning and action.

The next time you sit down to a game with your buddies take a closer look to see how their strategies can apply to your own profession. Your favorite sport may have more to teach you about strategy than even the most effective business meeting.