Learn from a Buffalo Bills Fan: Blind Faith is Bad for Business

Being a Buffalo Bills fan, I’ve had blind faith for years.

So what that they haven’t made the playoffs since the 1999 season (that’s when THIS happened); this is the year they’re going to do it. This time, they’re going all the way. That’s what I told myself, year after year, and of course it never happened. There was never any actual reason to believe it would happen. I was basically lying to myself.

Of course, rooting for a sports team is entertainment. There’s no reason not to root for a losing team, if that’s what you want to do, but in the business world, faith without evidence can have serious consequences.

It’s like what they say—if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you’ll keep getting the same results. Or, maybe you’ll get worse results, because mistakes can be cumulative. If you keep having faith in practices that never worked before, you could believe yourself right out of business.

You need some objective way to assess how you’re doing, something more reliable than how you happen to feel about your pet project. What method you use is up to you, but you need to be able to evaluate your work, your employees, your management structure, and your company as a whole. Some goals are long-term and you don’t get obvious results for a long time—that’s ok, but you need to be able to tell if they’re on the right track.

If not? If you have an employee or project that just consistently does not do well, it’s time to pivot. I’m not saying to fire the person or the scrap the project. Maybe you just need to change that employee’s role or do some restructuring. Have some heart-to-heart conversations, find out what the problem is, and deal with it. Ignoring the problem with wishful thinking and it will only get worse.

The changes you make shouldn’t be reflexive or random, either. For instance, say you fire the head of a failing project—and the project keeps failing, so you fire the replacement head, but then the new new head can’t turn it around, either….

That’s basically what the Bills are doing. They’ve been through many coaches and quarterbacks over the years, but haven’t seen any real success since Hall of Fame Quarterback, Jim Kelly retired in 1996. Firing scapegoats when the problem is actually your business structure or culture (or you) is just another example of believing in something without evidence.

So, gather the evidence. Find out how you’re doing. Take a good look in the mirror and ask around to get others’ input and feedback. And if you have the evidence to show that you’re on track for success, then believe in that, and forge ahead.

3 Key Points:

1) If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you’ll keep getting the same results.

2) Evaluate your work and everything around it. Do you have blind faith or a true belief in what you are doing?

3) If you believe in the process, go for it.






Image of the Ralph Wilson Stadium was taken by Idibri under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license