In-Stadium Collaboration

Last week, in the midst of the New England Patriots run for the second ever undefeated season in the National Football League, a player from the Pittsburgh Steelers (next opponent) guaranteed victory for his team. This guarantee, made on national television, raised a few eyebrows (and fists) within the New England fan and media sets.

Today I sat in my living room and watched the Patriots methodically dismantle the Steelers, offensively and defensively. As the final minutes of the game ticked away, a chant from the home field Patriot fans could be heard to grow: “guar-an-tee, Guar-an-tee, GUAR-AN-TEE!, GUAR-AN-TEE!!, GUAR-AN-TEE!!!.” It became so loud that we watching from home could clearly hear it through the TV and feel a tingling urge to join in.

As I sat there, marveling at the perfect timing and context of this rebuke, I began to think about how sports game chants work. Stadiums fill up with tens of thousands of cheering and shouting fans. Many of these individuals are eager to start cheers and when they do, other fans listen. If they like it, they pick up the cheer; if they don’t, they ignore the cheer. The favorite cheers build momentum and burst into the thundering “GUAR-AN-TEE” that was heard today. Cheers with poor conception, bad timing, or little relevance are lost in the shuffle.

Stadiums are big cheer-factories that combine the thought-power and judgment of thousands upon thousands of fans. With this massive level of collaboration, is it any wonder that they deliver without fail?

What’s the point you might ask? The point is that if Bob Craft (Patriots owner) wanted to produce great cheers that his fans liked, his best bet would be to access their knowledge and preferences. In stadiums, this process happens automatically, but in businesses it doesn’t. If you’re interested in having the best ideas and products (cheers) at your company (stadium), take the time to listen to and collaborate with your customers (fans).