I recently listened to TIME’s podcast marking the 25th anniversary of ‘The Play‘. For those like me who don’t follow the game, ‘The Play‘ refers to the historic dying seconds of an American football game between Standord University and the University of California, Berkeley. It’s widely regarded as the most memorable play in American football.
Stanford had just done some remarkable work to get a 1 point lead with seconds remaining on the clock. Cal had to pull a miracle from nowhere, and they did. (Though there’s controversy today about exactly what happened – including the fact that Stanford’s band were on the field, in the end zone during the play. One of the band members was flattened in the process.)
You can watch it on Youtube if you want to see what happened.
What’s interesting is that Cal had no particular plan but kept trying things (‘lateral passes’) to see what they could generate. A gap opened up, and before anyone knew what was going on, there was a touchdown.
This is a great example of how trying things, failing and trying again (ready, fire, aim) can have an enormous, creative impact, even in a matter of seconds.
Of course, Cal had nothing to lose and everything to gain – and the same applies in intellectual property strategy. It happens sometimes that you are in a similar situation, and then, if you can keep your head, this is the approach to take.