Do You Know How To Make An Organizational Blind Pass?

I spend at least an hour every day in the hills behind my house, hiking and listening to podcasts. It’s exercise and R&D time all rolled into one. 

During the interview with Reed Hastings of Netflix on the This Is Working podcast, Reed casually mentioned the idea of an “organizational blind pass.” My ears perked up. Now I’ve gone back and used my friend Google to check and see if I was just woefully ignorant of an organizational construct. I didn’t find a thing. Such a shame because I LOVE this idea. This idea sings to the very core of what I’m trying to teach everyone. When I’m working with teams, it’s easy to see the value of the individual’s value language, but people start to look at me strangely when I start to talk about the importance of group knowledge. 

Don’t see the connection yet? Let me take you through a little journey on how I think.

First, let’s talk about a blind pass. What is it in the real world? As a non-sporty person, I had to look it up.

  • A blind pass that a player makes without looking at the puck’s path or their pass’s intended recipient. 
  • The blind pass’s goal is to fool opponents into thinking that the puck is going one way when it is going in another direction. 
  • blind pass can also be called a “no-look pass.

I’m guessing that blind passes happen in all sorts of team sports. I’m not as excited about the “fool” portion of the definition, but the blind pass can create an edge over your competition. Fair enough.

Second, let’s talk about how they work. Feel free to hop over here and watch this simple explanation with basketball if you want to know. But here are the key lessons from the blind pass.

  1. You and your teammate have practiced the move.
  2. Your teammate is ready for you to send the ball their way.
  3. You have confidence they’re going to catch the ball.

Take this idea off the basketball court and into the corporate world, and we’re talking about teammates who:

  1. Understand and are aligned with your strategic direction.
  2. Are ready to lean into your strategy to add their strengths.
  3. You trust each other without conversation to catch the ball.

The bottom line is that each person on a team needs to be aligned with the strategic direction, understand each other’s contribution, and trust each other implicitly to step into each other’s play.

In a competitive situation or not, the flow of work becomes smooth and straightforward.

It made me consider how often I’ve been in a situation where blind passes were possible. And yes, I’m talking about those professional partnerships where you can move, almost independently, and yet align at the same time. They’re pretty magical, and I believe they can only happen when the following is true.

  • You have confidence in the value of your contribution.
  • You are excited and curious about what you’re going to do.
  • Your teammate believes in the value of your contribution.
  • Your teammate sees the potential of what you’re about to do.
  • You have confidence in the value of your teammates’ contributions.
  • You see the potential in what your teammate is about to do.

It seems like a long list. It’s not. For both people, it’s the belief in each person’s Future You.

I’d love to get your thoughts on this idea. Do you agree? Do you have people in your team that you know will catch your blind pass? And if that’s true, does the framework describe some of the magic? 

I know it does for me.