7 ways the Celtics started the Journey from “Good to Great”

book celtics

If your organization is anything like mine best practices come from books and inspiration comes from life.  Right now I have to admit I am pretty inspired by the Celtics (spoiler I know they lost, I blame the refs).  I grew up watching the Celtics in a house where my older brother sported the ‘21’ jersey on every team he ever played on and my Dad still bets 21 when playing his luck at roulette (can you tell we love Kevin Garnett?).  Recently I read Good to Great by Jim Collins and wanted to share my takeaways on how the C’s are on the road to greatness, and how I apply that to my everyday job.

 

  1. 1. First who, then what. The Celtics are a young team and hopefully have many more seasons to develop together.  They invested and took a chance on new players and it paid off.  Before you can think of winning you have to have the right people in place.  Elongating the hiring process to get that next star instead of settling is well worth the wait.  It’s important to decide who you can train and what skills the person needs to walk in with.

 

  1. Culture of discipline. The team stayed focused throughout the season and had the maturity to maintain their confidence. The consistency allowed them to persevere throughout the season and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  The same can be true for work.  Success isn’t always a straight line and you have to work through the unexpected bumps to keep moving forward.

 

  1. Confront brutal facts, but never lose faith.  The C’s were down two starters this season. The rest of the bench had to step up and lead the way. The reality for the team was that it was going to be a tougher season and was going to be a long journey to the finals. Instead of throwing in the towel, they banded together and made the changes needed to be successful. We do this all the time at PSG, we make data driven decision and sometimes that data doesn’t stack up in your favor. If we didn’t look at the facts, we wouldn’t know what we need to fix and move forward.

 

  1. The flywheel effect. Would I have loved to watch the Celtics crush LeBron in Game 7? Absolutely.  Am I still happy with how the season turned out? You know it.  The Celtics had a great season and went farther than expected.  They played as a team and rightfully earned a spot as a top team to watch for next year. They will come back ready to win. They started the flywheel that will keep going into next season.  Every day I try to build better practices that will build on each other to start my own flywheel.

 

  1. Level 5 leadership.  What I love most about watching the Celtics this season was watching Tatum become a true force on the team.  The Rookie proved you don’t have to be the coach or a returning player to set the tone for the team. Tatum at 20 years old played with determination and humility that lead the team to the finals. Leadership comes in all forms, but I want to take a second to focus (*humble brag*) on the leadership team at PSG. Our CFO and CEO don’t even have an office; in fact, Aaron Green, our CEO, doesn’t really even have a desk!  Aaron chooses to sit where he’s needed, to support when he’s needed.  To me, that is true leadership.

 

  1. The hedgehog concept.  Other than being completely adorable, hedgehogs do one thing really well: protect themselves. They may not be the fastest or smartest, but if under attack they curl up and their spikes come out.  The idea of being the best at one thing and not average at everything is one that carries from the court to the office.  To me, what makes the Celtics fun to watch is their team work.  No one player dominates and they work as a group. Their spike is that they are all able to carry their own weight. Being an industry expert and owning a section of the market allows you to focus your resources to truly band together and become great. My personal goal? Be the hedgehog of candidate experience.

 

  1. Tech Accelerators.  Alright, this one may be a reach. Basketball might not be the most tech savvy, but this is the method from the book I try to implement in all aspects of my life.  Collins talks through the concept of pause- think- crawl- walk- run (for the Celtics maybe it’s more crawl before you ball?) and specifically applies this when deciding on new technology. The team has to implement this ideology when strategizing how to match up with a competitor just like any businesses has to do when making a big decision. Your initial reaction isn’t always the best and it’s worth it to take the time needed to be informed.

 

Inspiration comes in all forms, what’s currently pushing you from good to great? Comment below to help spark inspiration for others!

Celtics

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