In basketball, as in information governance, it’s not the trick shots that win the game. It’s the dedication to fundamentals and game strategy.
Perhaps some background information is in order. For the last few months, I’ve been assisting one of my ZL colleagues with coaching his two sons’ youth basketball team. Many of the kids on the teams have not played organized basketball before, so the majority of our time has been spent developing the fundamentals: dribbling, passing, shooting, and defense. These are skills that have likely been established if a child has played even one season under a semi-knowledgeable coach. The trouble, of course, is that the kids see LeBron James and Stephen Curry on TV every night and want to skip the fundamentals to try and emulate the fancy stuff like behind-the-back passes, between-the-legs crossover dribbles, and deep 3-point shots. But you don’t get to the fancy stuff without a firm grasp on the boring ol’ fundamentals.
As we have run countless drills trying to develop good habits in our eager players, the thought has crossed my mind that coaching a basketball team is a lot like implementing a new software application:
- You need to equip your team with the necessary fundamentals to thrive in your system. Stephen Curry wasn’t wowing crowds and being voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player before he could dribble. To this day, he performs dribbling drills before each game. Translated to the technology sector, this looks like keeping your team sharp with regular training and testing.
- You need to choose a system that plays to your team’s strengths. Great basketball coaches always fit their offensive and defensive schemes to their players, never the other way around. Similarly, IT teams need to choose a system that flatters their strengths without flaunting their weaknesses. For instance, an IT department with a thin DBA team may want to look for an application that is trending toward NoSQL architecture, rather than one that is going to rely mostly on a relational database.
- You need to celebrate the victories. Our team finally got its first win of the season on Saturday, and the kids could not have been more excited! All the hard work, the boring drills, and the extra time spent at practice on Monday nights finally payed off. Instead of pointing out the mistakes we made throughout the game, we took the opportunity to celebrate a victory and build the team’s confidence. In IT, entire teams can often go unnoticed -- and certainly un-thanked -- until something goes wrong, so it’s especially important recognize success when it occurs. Thank a teammate for the good job they did, compliment an employee on their work ethic, or explain to a superior how their management style has helped you grow and expand your skillset. Don’t leave your team’s confidence up to other; take it into your own hands. Not only will this help with your team’s chemistry, but it will improve job performance and satisfaction, as well.
In a way, sports in general are not so different from information governance practices; it’s all too appealing to fixate on the buzzer-beater that wins the game, the championship match, and the glory of the victory. But before any of those things can ever occur, there needs to be a long road of less glamorous practice and planning. Invest properly in the foundational steps, and reap the rewards later.