Process and Basketball
I’m not precisely a Spurs fan, despite living in Texas. They don’t always inspire to put it nicely, but you have to respect their approach to the game and the fundamentals. And they just won another NBA championship – their fifth. Is it possible that their success is due largely to their process? Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN describes it that way. I wasn’t expecting to learn about process while watching the NBA playoffs, but there it is:
Another title for the Spurs confirms a bunch of optimistic beliefs about the the way the world should work: process matters more than politics; people should be valued for what they can do rather than what they can’t; a meritocracy can thrive if it values the right things.
Devotion to the process doesn’t always yield the desired results. In basketball, this is called heartbreak, and for the Spurs, Game 6 of June 2013 was a case study. Yes, there were a couple of self-inflicted miscues — Tim Duncan comes up short in the paint, Kawhi Leonard misses a free throw, Manu Ginobili can’t snare a rebound — but the Spurs didn’t deserve that.
Then again, you don’t deserve anything. You just go play. And the Spurs lead the world in just going and playing.
To BPM practitioners, this all sounds a little too familiar. Except, in BPM circles, we focus so much on outcomes- rather than accepting that following the process is how we play our game the best we can – how we compete the best we can. But we don’t control what other competitors will do, or what the market or economy will hand to us.
The article rightly points out how hard it is to get dozens of people (let alone thousands or tens of thousands) to buy into a shared vision. For that vision to be one of being selfless and disciplined by most people’s standards, and to stay committed to the process- that’s impressive.
This sounds just like the kind of company we want to build at BP3:
That combination the Spurs have achieved is what most of us want out of professional life. We want to do something we love. We want the freedom to experiment and to know that if we’re true to the process, we won’t be deemed a failure, regardless of the result. We want to work alongside people who root for us to be really good. We want to know that if we have to wind the clock 12 full months after being so very, very close, everyone will exhale, regroup and stay with it.