Posts Tagged ‘management lessons from sports’

There have been jokes in plenty about the KKR’s disastrous IPL season. Till date, I have also been involved to that extent only – had fun at their expense!

But an article in India Today, probing an analysis of the KKR performance got me thinking. One of the comments made by an ex-Australian cricketer (who is not named in the article) mentions that high profile coach John Buchanan was good to fine tune a team of brilliant individual cricketers (as in the Australian team that he coached then), but he would not be able to handle a team that has disparate and somewhat mediocre cricketers too.

This is an interesting thought, really. I remember during our college days, we had the Agrawal Classes in Mumbai, which had an amazing record at the IIT-JEE exams (and also the class XII HSC exams). The fact was that it restricted admissions to the absolute best-in-breed students and simply honed them to write the perfect exams. There were questions asked those days that if Agrawal Classes were really that good, can they take average performers and make them winners?? And the jury was out on that question. And we have seen others, such as the Super 30 – IIT group out of Bihar, where the not-so-perfect group has been converted into winners! Lagaan and Chak De India told similar stories. In real world sports teams, captains Mike Brearley (England), Warne (Rajasthan Royals) and Dhoni (India and Chennai Superkings) have done similar work. They have not necessarily had stars in their teams, but they have transformed average players into winning ones. Unlike John Buchanan!!

Could the same concept be true with CEOs? Would some CEOs succeed only when given star teams, whereas others manage to convert average performers into winning groups? Which is a better captain / coach / CEO to have? Buchanan or Brearley??

Another related and interesting thought with respect to sports teams is shared in the recent book, “Simplexity“. It talks about why good teams often lose against bad teams. The concept mentioned there is with respect to the ‘single line of fault’. With all the best players and strategy at a team’s disposal, how critical is a dropped catch in the 20th over?! Or a no-ball bowled or a wide given or a batsman giving away his wicket to an indiscrete shot at the very end?

That ‘single line of fault’ can undo all the great work of the great team, and which is the difference between winning and losing.

Like sports teams, companies are equally vulnerable to such ‘single line of fault’. There is a lot to learn from Mortaza’s wide in the 20th over to Rohit Sharma losing his wicket when just 4 runs were required in 4 balls. That could easily happen to your company too.. !