Management is Like… Playing Basketball?

This Fast Company piece is right on the money. Those of you who like to play basketball will appreciate it. This is my favorite part:

I'll take my chances with four other experienced hoopheads against a team of over-confident young studs any day of the week. Older, experienced players understand their roles and know how to accentuate strengths and hide weaknesses. They no longer rely on individual quickness and strength to beat opponents, realizing they are collectively better served by meshing their own skills with their teammates and fashioning themselves into a more cohesive operating unit. The same concept applies in the office. Employees who see the bigger picture and understand their specific roles become more valuable teammates in the process. As a chief executive, it is among my highest priorities to help all our employees visualize our larger corporate objectives, and then ensure that they understand their role in meeting specific goals.

When I lived in Florida several years ago, I was already considered one of the "old guys" at 25 (when it came to basketball). Every Saturday I played at a local church, and the first game of the day was always between the high school kids that showed up and the older guys. The HS kids always wanted to play that game. Yet we beat them almost every time. They played too much one-on-one and we ran simple pick-and-rolls and backdoor cuts for easy baskets. We worked together as a team.

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Sometimes a business seems to have all the right things – a superstar team, a great product, high profile VCs, and they still fail. Maybe it is because they had everything but an understanding of how to work together to get things done and reach their goals.

George Will once wrote that "sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence." I'd add to it that sports can teach us lots of lessons that carry over into other fields.