• Steve Junion, Ph.D.

Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can't Lose: What Leaders Can Learn from Coach Taylor About the Consumer

Like my old FNL DVDs, I am dusting off this blog post originally written as our high school team played their first game of the year earlier this fall.


Fans of the Friday Night Lights television series created by Peter Berg will remember Coach Taylor and the Dillon Panthers rallying around the mantra of ‘clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose’. As I've been re-watching the series, I’ve been thinking about my work with partners, consumers, and leadership lessons I’ve learned through implementing consumer-centered innovation.


I spend time with partners helping them build consumer-focused strategies to get to know, surprise, and make it easy for their consumers to do business with them and for their employees to connect with the organization's purpose. To review why this is important for leaders, a couple of important data points:

Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace reports 51% of employees are looking for new jobs and like millennials, ‘want their work to have meaning and purpose’. And only 22% of employees strongly agree leadership has a clear direction for the organization.

Len Sherman (2017) points out corporations who had customer-focused mission statements that failed in delivering their promise - for example Wells Fargo and Lumber Liquidators. Sherman also highlights companies like Amazon that get it right and know what makes some organizations successful over others. Hint, it involves the consumer and leadership!


How then can we use the clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose mantra when leading consumer-centered innovation?

Clear Eyes: Leadership needs to set a clear vision and mission for employees and consumers. I have been in a position to set the vision around the consumer as well as working with external organizations helping their executives set their consumer vision. Employees and consumers rally around a clear vision.

Full Hearts: Employees want meaning in their work on a daily basis. Consumers want meaningful and personal interactions with individuals and organizations. As leaders, we must drive the shift in mindset and culture to being relentlessly focused on the consumer experience. When this happens, employees find meaning through their connection to the consumer.

Can't-Lose: You CANNOT lose your focus on the consumer. The role of the leader, much like Coach Taylor (or Jeff Bezos – Chairman and CEO of Amazon and Jorgen Knudstorp – former CEO of Lego) is to rally the team to victory. Leaders and organizations can’t lose by relentlessly focusing their leaders and the team on the consumer.


I will continue to work with partners, leaving it all on the field (office) for their employees and consumers. There is no better feeling than spending time with organizations who commit to knowing their consumers and teaching these organizations the methodologies, frameworks, and tools that can help them better deliver on the promises they’ve made. It is both exhausting and exhilarating and when we do it well...

Employees win.

Consumers win.

Business wins.

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