Even though I was a student athlete at Harvard, it was basketball that taught me how to succeed at business.
Not THE Harvard but “Harvard-on-the-Bayou,” as my alma mater was jokingly referred to. It was the only accredited business school in Louisiana – Nicholls State University, and thus why it had such an illustrious nickname.
All jokes aside. I was a basketball athlete in college. I love competition and playing team sports. It taught me as much – possibly more – as the “Harvard” curriculum did in how to win in business.
The strategic principles of a winning sports team are the same foundations that our team of consultants employs when conducting strategic business assessments for our clients. We call them the three C’s for Accelerated Impact Model (AIM).
The Three C’s
1. Connection. A coaching staff, during pre-season, must develop a relationship and build connections with individual players as well as the team as a whole. It is important to understand what makes each person ‘tick’, his or her skills and their role within the team. Building trust in the early stages is critical to gain insights and develop the team with continuity.
Same thing applies with your business. Regular assessments of your organization, its strategies and tactical plans must be conducted deeply and broadly. A leadership team can’t just talk amongst itself. It needs to involve the entire team on what is happening and gather knowledge from the people that are closest to the work.
Getting deeply connected with your organization and individual contributors, truly knowing how each role and function interrelates, is crucial to developing and executing successful strategies.
2. Collaboration. There’s a huge amount of collaboration within winning sports teams. Gaining insights on what is working, and what is not working, occurs through careful analysis of team statistics. There is also a feedback loop amongst the players, and between players and coaches, to share knowledge and discuss what “feels right” to execute at game time.
Coaches can’t always stick to the game strategy. Once the players are on the court, adjustments have to be made that are not specifically outlined in the playbook. That requires individual players to intimately know their role during any given play, and be empowered to adjust based on competitive reaction.
Successful businesses require frequent collaboration amongst all functions to gather, analyze and share performance data. Fact-based, transparent discussions on what the data means and how to check-and-adjust tactical plans is crucial but not always easy. They require internal negotiations and mutual agreement on priorities, allocation of resources and/or plan adjustments.
Collaboration is made easier when there are clearly defined and mutually agreed to KPI’s and success metrics. These data points should ensure alignment, regardless of individual adjustments that need to be made in response to market changes.
3. Communication The most important of the “C’s” and the most challenging. The team needs to know what each individual is doing, when and where. In basketball, the point guard must know if the forward will break to the basket on his/her signal or execute a screen for the post player. Otherwise, the ball is dropped or intercepted.
Basketball teams have a clear and documented strategy for their internal communications. Who can call plays, what signals to use from the sidelines or on the court, how to make adjustments and when to call time-out. And, a constant communication of performance against the team’s KPI’s.
Businesses need to do the same – have a formal, documented internal communications plan that ensures alignment throughout the organization. Identifying what information needs to be shared, when and how will make communications more efficient versus cumbersome. And most importantly, reduces the risk for confusion that can negatively affect performance and morale.
Putting the 3 “C’s” Into Practice
These principles that I mentioned from my years as a basketball player – Connection, Collaboration and Communication – have proven themselves over and over as the components of a winning business strategy. That is why my consulting team uses them to help clients in reevaluating their business plans and go-to-market strategies.
Incorporating the 3 C’s will accelerate impact on a business’s performance. It requires commitment by leadership to not just put them into practice but also ingrain them into the organization’s culture. C3Consulting can support you on this journey.
Ask any of our team members about the Accelerated Impact Model (AIM) and how we incorporate the three C’s to help benefit your business.