One of the things that I love about anthropology is that it teaches respect for people. In my first anthropology class, Dave McCurdy explained how anthropology could be applied in business settings. He talked about James Spradley’s work with Dannon Yogurt. Rather than doing business consulting from the top down – focused on management’s perspective – Spradley talked to the workers to find out what they wanted and needed. He asked them how to make the business operate more efficiently. He treated the workers as the experts they are.
One of the mistakes that many businesses make is seeing employees as adversaries. They would deny to the death that they do it. They neglect to understand that the employees have a stake in making the company profitable. Not always, but management and employees essentially have the same goal more often than not.
Apparently one basketball coach believes in trusting the experts – the players, as reported on Facebook:
Gregg Popovich: San Antonio Spurs Coach Watches Players Coach Themselves During Timeout
With less than a minute remaining in the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Popovich called a timeout. Guard Tony Parker lead the players in discussion. The Spurs won, 99-95.
According to Daniel Pink in his book Drive, in order for people to be motivated, they need three things: 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. (http://www.danpink.com/drive-the-summaries/)
Giving employees – basketball players in this case – control over the decisions that affect them – works. Beautifully.
That quality input doesn’t come without successful leadership.
During a timeout with less than a minute left in the game, Spurs guard Tony Parker sat in Popovich’s chair and animatedly talked to his teammates. Meanwhile, Popovich just sat on the bench, taking it all in.
The Spurs are such a well coached team, that moments like this just happen naturally. Even when they are leading by seven points with 55 seconds left, the Spurs are not going to let the game get out of control. And they didn’t against Cleveland on Thursday, defeating the Cavs 99-95. (http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25450545/watch-spurs-coach-themselves-during-timeout-popovich-listens)
Popovich would do that because he has strong, experienced players on the team. He knows that because he’s coached them. If businesses train and coach their employees well (which happens far less often than it should), the employees will be able to manage themselves.