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Coaching, Coding and Learning By George Evjen

Prior to my time in the world of software development, I spent roughly 12 years coaching college basketball. I enjoyed every minute that I was afforded to be part of coaching a team. Laying out a vision, implementing that vision and developing tools and process to develop our program and players, was as thrilling to me as being on the floor teaching a player how to rebound from the weakside of the floor or the proper way to shoot a basketball. Winning games and fortunately a few small college national championships were some of our best moments - but what I miss the most is that daily grind of developing a program, getting players(kids) to buy into a process that would ultimately serve them.

 

Even though I am now in the software business where I've traded a gym floor for a cubicle in some scenarios. I am still drawn to team development and processes that enable people/players to develop to their full potential. Sports, athletic programs and the ideals of player development are relevant in the world of software teams and businesses at large. I still read and study as much as I can from coaches I admire. Below are some thoughts from John Calipari who is the head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky - arguably the premier college basketball program in the nation.

 

As I got into this article I realized that I'd have to break it up into a few blog posts since I found value in every piece.


 http://www.coachcal.com/39696/2016/07/changing-our-approach-while-maintaining-our-mindset/


By John Calipari - July 2, 2016

 

Changing our approach while maintaining our mindset.

"How do we continue to grow and stay ahead of the curve?"

  • Keep in mind that Kentucky is the gold standard for college basketball (them and Duke) in today's landscape of college basketball. Here is a coach that wins 30+ games a year, has won a national championship, been to multiple final fours and has had countless players selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Stay ahead of the curve? They are the curve, people/coaches/programs work round the clock to emulate what they do. What is striking is this mindset of taking inventory of where you are, where you're going, who is going with you and how are you going to do it. After the end of the season and winning over 30 games again, Coach Cal is introspective on what they can do to improve. The word complacency comes to mind - we've reached the top - we're good now. Here is what one of my favorite coaches of all time says - Coach Don Meyer: "Complacency is the forerunner of mediocrity." One of my co-workers (Clint Edmonson) here at Polaris Solutions said in an interview, "Have the white belt mentality" meaning you're never the black belt, there is more to learn, more to win - we've done well, but we haven't accomplished anything yet focus. Recently Nick Saban (Alabama Football Coach - won 4 or last 7 National Championships) said "Complacency creates a blatant disregard for doing what's right, you just can't do what you feel like doing". This morning my boss asked to go on a walk with me around our parking lot. We talked about a variety of things but he had some very pointed questions for me. "What do you like that we are doing?" and "What do you feel we can do better or what do you feel we do too much of?" Great questions from someone that wants to continue to grow and stay ahead of the curve and build his 'program'. I didn’t have great answers for him on this second question - his response to me was to make sure I have one the next time he asks - continuous improvement.

 

"Our foundation and our approach towards being a players-first program and doing everything we can to help these kids is not going to change."

  • I spent ten of my years coaching up in Michigan. If you live in Michigan and love sports it is only a matter of time before you wind up organizing your Saturday's around Michigan Football. Once you commit to rooting for Michigan it is only a matter of time before you learn about the great Bo Schembechler. Bo's most famous quote is 'The Team, The Team, The Team". A bit of a difference to what Coach Cal says - "Players first program" - Bo: The Team, The Team, The Team. Regardless if your philosophy is 'The Team' or 'Players First' Id argue that both are centered around the team. Coach Cal knows the vision and mission of his program is centered on the team and he sells his team first vision by pushing each player for personal development. Im finishing up a book titled "This is Lean" by Niklas Modig in it he spends a fair amount of time talking about the Toyota Production System (TPS). How Toyota changed the manufacturing industry by being lean. The two pillars of the 'Toyota Way' are Continuous Improvement and Respect for People (Respect and Teamwork). I think this is exactly what Coach Cal is talking about when he says "our approach towards being a players-first program". Demand that the players or employees improve and give them the coaching and tools to improve. Secondly, show them its a players first program by respecting their goals and dreams by providing opportunities for them to achieve those goals. Players and employees will buy into your vision for the team when they see you care about them first. Coach Don Meyer used to say 'they dont care how much you know till they see how much you care'. Once they see that you care and are helping them develop and contribute to the team you get buy in and your team takes the vision you are creating. 



For more info on me and Polaris Solutions you can follow me on twitter @gevjen 



Posted on Friday, September 2, 2016 2:43 PM Agile , TeamBuilding , Lean | Back to top


Comments on this post: Calipari - Changing Our Approach

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