The Systems Game – Business Coaching Lessons From The NBA

Top Quote For ActionCOACH, the best approach to business is a “systems” approach, one that relies on certain metrics, standards and KPI’s. The same can be said for NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers under Phil Jackson's leadership. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) June 05, 2008 - For ActionCOACH, the world’s number one business coaching firm, the best approach to business is a “systems” approach, one that relies on certain metrics, standards and key performance indicators (also known as KPI’s). “ActionCOACH focuses on systemizing everything in the business,” ActionCOACH CEO Brad Sugars says. “Successful sports teams have done the same thing in terms of personnel and game plans. It makes sense – because systems make the complex simple.”

    One team that has relied on systems to great success has been the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers under the leadership of head coach Phil Jackson. The Lakers, who just defeated the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs to head to the NBA championship series, are unlikely contenders for this year’s NBA title. Prior to the season, many pundits wondered if the Lakers would make the playoffs at all.

    Beset by injuries and a roster of new players, Jackson faced a number of challenges. He did so, however, with the one constant he relied on for years in the NBA: the “triangle offense” developed by Tex Winter. As a system, the triangle offense focuses on each player filling a distinct role. Every pass and every running cut each player makes has a specific purpose within the system.

    Over the years, Jackson has used the offense to great success, winning a total of nine NBA championships with both the Chicago Bulls and the Lakers. Interestingly, players who most resisted Jackson’s system over the years had never won a championship on their own, while others only won while playing under Jackson.

    Should the Lakers win this year’s championship, Jackson will have won his 10th NBA title, surpassing legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach. Jackson not only accomplished this feat with two different teams, he did it in different decades, in two different cities, with entirely different players. “The only similarity between Jackson’s teams in Chicago and Los Angeles is his system,” Sugars says. “Especially this year, with a cast of different players in a very tough conference.”

    The lesson isn’t lost on Sugars. “It leads to the ultimate business coaching question for our clients,” he says. “How’s your system working for you?” ActionCOACH is the world’s number one business coaching firm, with more than 1,000 offices in 26 countries. To learn more, go to

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