Adaptive Technology Transfer
. Nicola Tesla got his inspriation for the AC induction motor from a Goethe poem and drew the first schematic in the sands of a Budapest Park.
This article about Bill Walsh is another gem
Digital Rules (By Rich Karlgaard)
Bill Walsh, Maverick Football Coach
Forbes hired me in 1992 to start a technology magazine called Forbes ASAP. How great was this! The job even came with a decent budget to hire top writers.
I immediately signed up three of my own maverick heroes to write articles and columns. Two were obvious picks:
• George Gilder, who could see around corners. And write better than anyone else.
• Tom Peters, the offbeat management thinker. Author of the pathbreaking, myth-busting, mega bestseller, In Search of Excellence.
My third pick was a surprise. Bill Walsh had no known writing talents, but I knew he was extremely well-read on football and military history. He had no obvious fit in a technology magazine, but I also knew Walsh was an innovator and a futurist.
Walsh took over the San Francisco 49ers in 1979. The team had gone 2-14 during the prior season. Three years later the 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL championship and the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl.
Coach Walsh invented what is today known as the West Coast offense. This featured, and still does, short passes with a high percentage of completion.
Batting around column ideas with Walsh one day, I asked him to explain the origin of this offense. Basketball, Walsh said.
“One day I was watching a basketball game. A close game. One team was in a full-court press. Yet the other team was able to get the ball inbounds and up the court 90% of the time.
“I asked myself, how can they do that, when the defense is all over them?
“So I watched lots of basketball film to learn the answers. Then I applied the lessons to football.”
That's why Walsh drafted Joe Montana in 1979. Montana's huge success as a pro quarterback – three Super Bowl wins and a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame pick – now makes Walsh's draft choice look like a no-brainer. But it was a controversial pick at the time. Montana was only the fifth quarterback selected in the 1979 draft. The pro scout view of Montana: Too skinny. Arm not strong enough.
But once Walsh had his idea of applying basketball strategy to football, choosing an athlete like Montana made sense. Montana, you see, played basketball at his Pennsylvania high school. He played guard and made first-team, all-state during his senior year. In fact, Montana went to Notre Dame with the hope of playing both basketball and football.
Walsh picked Montana not for his rifle arm, but for his peripheral vision. For Montana's proven ability to improvise and dish the ball to an open man.
Bill Walsh liked to borrow ideas from military history, too. He had read On War, the classic written in 1832 by Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian military thinker. Walsh liked to spend vacations walking the Civil War battlefields.
For three years, Walsh wrote a column for Forbes ASAP. He taught our readers a priceless lesson: If you want to be a innovator, look for ideas outside your own playing field.
It's still a great lesson