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  • Peter Bouloukos

Duke Basketball and Modern Business Management in America?

A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional amount of time on “x’s and o’s” as compared to time spent learning about people” – Mike Krzyzewski.

Some organizations foster an atmosphere where management treats people as "things" or a number. The top-down approach from ownership or corporate is all about statistics, numbers and profit percentage. Here discussions about X's and O's are driven by a script purchased from a franchise system rather than on-going, on-time truth or analysis. Here, owners or leaders really have no grasp of the human element or what truly makes a single operation tick. In basketball, when the X's and O's break down due to pressure or change, what must happen while the shot clock is ticking away?

Pressure can't exist when people have the skills, tools and freedom to deal with the task at hand. A great coach and manager will provide on-going training and skill concepts at practice right?

If the coach is yelling and losing control, how can the team win? If the leaders don't provide on-going training and practice of necessary skills, what happens when it's game time? How often have we all seen a so-called leader freaking out "under pressure?" With this, how might any organization expect to get better when the very leaders who are supposed to set the example are swearing, yelling or banging things around like children? What happens on the basketball court when someone loses control?

When pressure exists and the X's and O's break down, you have to encourage the team to simply play the game to the best of their ability and leaders must be available to support as much as needed. The X's and O's are the fundamental direction the team is supposed to take, but sometimes even the best players need a sub to come off the bench right?

You can't possibly control each outcome and any attempt will stifle the creativity, potential and greatness of your people. Developing greatness requires total release of control in my opinion. Your systems provide the platform for success.

Many operations will "carrot and stick" employees in attempts to get them to do what they are already supposed to be doing. Parents do this too! What happens the minute a work contest ends? People stop doing the task because they didn't learn the rewards are truly on-going. Contests reward the efforts of one person and the skills necessary to win are never shared throughout the team.

“Goals should be realistic, attainable, and shared among all members of the team” – Mike Krzyzewski

When realistic goals are clearly explained and shared, people will understand and succeed for the team. Duke basketball has rules, standards and expectations each player meets...but it's their mind, heart and soul that goes out to play each game. Bobby Knight tried to control people and outcomes all of the time and we all remember him throwing a chair across the court. Mike Krzyzewski uses practice to teach and reinforce rules and trusts these fundamentals will create the resources and reserves to win each game.

When hard assets are managed, systems exist for support, "control" should be left to each individual. Let them drive the car and let the players break down the ever changing defense in front of them.

People are volunteers. You can’t buy or control the mind, body, heart, and spirit – they are volunteered.

Great leaders simply encourage each person to learn more and help them arrive at each set goal. Great leaders have to get to know the unique motivations of each member of the team. What drives them, what do they love, where are they strong and what do they need help with?

People are the biggest asset and resource any successful operation will ever have, but an accountant puts "people" in the books as a cost or "liability." So do operations who believe statistics and numbers happen without the cultivation of the human element. I always laugh when a close-minded operator is proud of his labor percentage on a slow night, but this very focus is often the reason numbers are down and then need his great "management" skill.

“Each group and each youngster is different. As a leader or coach, you get to know what they need” – Mike Krzyzewski

The key to exponential growth is found by recruiting and attracting the best you can, developing great people and then supporting creativity and unique contributions from each memeber of the team.

Yours in Success, Peter Dean Bouloukos

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