The goal is self-evident: With six minutes remaining, the Atlanta Falcons must take the ball from their 15 yard line, drive 85 yards, and score a touchdown to overcome a five point deficit and win the game.Head coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter set the strategy: They will begin the drive by running the ball on consecutive downs to burn the clock and lure the defensive safety to the line of scrimmage. Later, when the opportunity presents itself, they will fake a running play and look to pass the ball down the field over the safety for a score.

It is now second down and two at the Falcons’ 40 yard line after an eight yard run by Stephen Jackson, and they have the opportunity they’ve been waiting for. Matt Ryan takes the snap and fakes another handoff to Jackson. The safety charges the line of scrimmage, giving wide receiver Julio Jones one-on-one coverage on the outside. Jones gets a jump on the defender off the line and quickly establishes a two-step advantage. Ryan looks to his right, then quickly back to his left and throws the ball deep down the field. The ball spirals, turns over, and arcs perfectly towards Jones, who is now running three steps ahead of the defense. The Falcons sideline and fans stand up in anticipation of the winning score. The ball descends towards Jones’s outstretched arms. Victory is within reach. But Jones drops the ball.

Ryan and Jones simultaneously put both hands on their helmets. The crowd moans, then quickly goes silent. Coach Smith looks down in disbelief: Everyone knew the goal. His staff and team set the perfect strategy. They arranged the right set tactics to fulfill it. But they failed when it was time to execute the final piece.

At Lenz, we guide our clients through the Goal-Strategy-Tactics-Execution evaluation process to help them make important decisions. Usually, our client sets the goal and it’s our job to research their business, the competition, and the market to inform our strategic advice. We are vigilant about continuing education to remain expert in the broad array of marketing tactics and tools, such as advertising, PR, design, interactive, and more. And finally, we know that none of the above will matter without flawless execution.

That’s the scary part. Just as a dropped pass can compromise all the great work that precedes it, so can a misspelled word or bad link.

It all comes down to execution.


-Mike Killeen