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What Your Business Can Learn from the NBA’s “Tanking” Teams

As both a Knicks and a sports fan in general, I never like to see my favorite teams lose. However, in the case of the NBA, where tanking is a regular practice for teams vying for top draft picks, we are forced to rationalize the long term gains for such practices. While I watched the close wind down on what was ultimately to become the Knicks’ 22 point loss to the Detroit Pistons in the season finale in one of the worst seasons of Knicks basketball in their history, I thought of reasons why this loss wasn’t so bad.

I replaced my fan hat (well after I took this pic with former NBA All-Star Vin Baker) with my strategy hat and quickly saw what the Knicks and their counterparts could teach all of us about our businesses.

Sports teams often go through what they call “rebuilding years”, a time when they have realized they do not have the talent or experience on the team to truly compete for championships. When teams realize that talent is a bigger issue, they are forced to accept that will not be unable to compete and will have to make some important decisions about the future.  Some will choose to fight it out, weighed down by mediocrity, convinced they are a few key players away from becoming a championship caliber team, while others who have a longer hill to climb will have to conduct a complete reassessment of their teams’ talent and potential, and begin the process of retooling and rebuilding.

By nature, most business owners tend to be both competitive and well, fans of their own companies. We like to win all of the time, and we are never willing to concede to a down season.  We often see the lack of forward progress as failure, when rather, it should be taken as a reminder to step back and analyze our competitive environment. When we allow ourselves the chance to look at our businesses objectively, we have the ability to determine whether we are only a few key changes away from our next leap forward or if we need a more significant restructure. Some changes we may need to make may be to key personnel, marketing and sales tactics, operational and production processes or all of the above.

When you find yourself in a position of stagnation, try taking your fan hat off and look at your business more objectively.  Sometimes tanking for a little while and reassessing your team, talent and operations can lead to much bigger gains on the rebound.

Have you ever “tanked” in your company?

 

Ken Krysinski

by Ken Krysinski