What’s the Right Model?

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Congratulations to Louisville, this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion.  Comparing Louisville, with last year’s champion, Kentucky, highlights how two very different organizational approaches can achieve the same result.

Louisville fielded a very experienced team with no major stars – only one player is projected to be drafted into the NBA this year.  Coach Rick Pitino, worked with these experienced players to create a solid team and a tenacious, punishing defense. 

In contrast, last year’s champion, Kentucky, was comprised of young superstars.  Coach John Calipari started three freshmen and two sophomores and a total of six players were drafted by NBA teams – including the first TWO picks.  Leveraging this team’s talent and athleticism, Coach Calipari dominated its opponents.

Two very distinct models yielded the same results – a national championship.  So which is the right model? 

When working with organizations, it is often asked, what’s the right model?  Should we centralize functions,  decentralize or something else The answer is – well, it depends – on the environment in which you operate and your organization’s specific strengths and weaknesses.

Just as the coaches of these two teams assessed their teams’ strengths and how to best leverage them, you need to look critically at your business to understand how to best utilize your team. 

  • What specialized knowledge does your organization have that can be used across the company?
  • What competencies do you have?  How can they be developed further or expanded within the organization?
  • What functions are critical to the success of your business?
  • Which activities need to be closest to your customers?
  • What activities need to be done with the least overhead?

Thinking through these types of questions will help you determine how to best organize your people to create a winning team. By the way, as the coach you always reserve the right (and it happens all the time) to change your team model as your people and the company change. 

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Jim Livingston

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