Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lessons Learned: The Lakers version 2013

The Los Angeles Lakers leadership team has made several missteps, which serve as cautionary lessons for organizational leaders.

First, they reacted to increased competition by adding two all-star players.  This seemed like a good idea. The management team acknowledged that it would take time for the new team to gel as a group, however, they did not give the group time to grow together. As a result, the team started out poorly and the coach was fired after five games of an eighty game schedule. 

Second, the Leadership team seemed too insecure to hire the best candidate. The obvious choice to fill the coaching vacancy was legendary former coach Phil Jackson, yet experts speculated his personality was too big for the Lakers senior leaders.  And in the end, although the management team openly courted Jackson, they hired Mike D'Antoni instead.

Thirdly, D'Antoni’s offensive principles require relentless pressure and speed.  It is obvious the players’ talents and athleticism are a mismatch for the system; the players themselves have admitted that they are an old team.  The Lakers All-Stars are aging veterans better suited to a different pace of play. The Leadership team is currently locked into a roster filled with players that cannot succeed in their system.

The Lakers are now stuck with tens of millions in guaranteed contracts for coaches and players that don't fit together.  Consequently, the leadership team is already faced with cutting their losses and starting over with a new coaching staff, a revamped roster, or both. 

The Lakers leadership team did not have a strategy - they had a reactive plan.  Leaders need to have a strategy that allows multiple options and contingency that will ensure progress.  The Lakers leadership did not provide this for the organization.

So, the Lakers have a team filled with expensive all-stars, a losing record, and a lot of choices to make in the short term.  The Lakers have a mess created by their leadership team. 

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