Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hoop Lessons

I am a basketball junkie! Professional…collegiate…Olympic…international…even high school. I watch and enjoy it all.

That’s because the game recognizes individual performance within the context of team accomplishment. (An environment we try to emulate at Strategic Communications Group (Strategic)).

Plus, the athleticism of the sport’s top players is truly remarkable. Take a whirl over to YouTube and search for “greatest NBA dunks.”

Professional hoops in the US -- primarily the National Basketball Association (NBA) -- are subject to the same pressures that influence most businesses. Issues such as globalization, employee relations, bureaucracy, promotion and publicity, stakeholder communications, etc. impact the product on the court.

This week’s announcement that Atlanta Hawks free agent Josh Childress has elected to sign a contract with Greek professional team Olympiacos has caused quite a stir in the NBA establishment. Childress is the first American player in line to make big money in the US who has decided to ditch the NBA for an international opportunity.

Is this a good or bad for the NBA, its players and its fans?

Henry Abbott who writes a blog called TrueHoop for ESPN is spot on in his assessment. He makes two points I believe are relevant to this situation, as well as to businesses in general.

1. Market leading organizations need viable competition to remain innovative in their delivery of products and services. Abbott writes:

In most businesses, if you do things in an inefficient manner, eventually your competition will come along and do it better, cheaper, faster, etc., and they will hurt your bottom line or put you out of business entirely. That's how the free market forces efficiency on us all. It's painful at times, but it sure teaches some strong lessons about figuring out what's most important and constantly evolving.

2. Too much regulation and bureaucracy ultimately limits creativity and innovation. In the case of the NBA, Abbott points out:

The NBA's collective bargaining agreement includes a ton of complicated clauses. Each serves a purpose, and you can make a case that, all told, it's a good and fairly fair system. But regulation is always burdensome, and this league, famously run by lawyers, is knee-deep in legalese.

I plan to take Abbot’s points to heart as I think about Strategic as a business, as well as the counsel we provide to clients.

Say Goodbye to Josh Childress, Say Hello to Some NBA Soul-Searching

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