After watching Kobe Bryant win his fifth championship as a Los Angeles Laker, I watched one of my favorite YouTube videos courtesy of Allen “The Answer” Iverson on the subject of PRACTICE in 2002 (pre-YouTube).
I recommend you watch it for the multiple laughs and then pay attention to the end of the clip where Iverson states “How the hell can I make my teammates better by practicing?”
That led me to reread an article from 2006 in Fortune about “What it Takes to be Great” and specific differences between practice and deliberate-practice. The article along with the video explains how deliberate-practice could have enabled one of basketball’s all-time greats to lead his team to an NBA championship.
In the article, there is a great example of what deliberate-practice is in golf:
“…Simply hitting a bucket of balls is not deliberate practice, which is why most golfers don't get better. Hitting an eight-iron 300 times with a goal of leaving the ball within 20 feet of the pin 80 percent of the time, continually observing results and making appropriate adjustments, and doing that for hours every day - that's deliberate practice.” I highly recommend reading the article.
So how could Allen Iverson or an ambitious executive use deliberate-practice or deliberate-meetings to make their team better?
Identify the parts of your day/week/month that can lead to making your team better
For instance, team and 1:1 meetings are most likely a critical component to improving your team. Decide you will get better at leading these meetings with the primary goal of improving team performance. There is nothing more important than improving your team’s future performance - the past has already happened and just like basketball, creating Order of Magnitude value is a team game.
As you are in the meeting, focus on what's happening and why you and your team do it the way you do
Some things to think about in preparation and during your meetings: Is your meeting structured? What is the goal or goals of the meeting? Is your team prepared for the meeting? Is there a wrap up email to ensure commitments are documented and are clearly communicated? Does your team taking the meeting seriously? Why or why not? Thinking about these questions will get you started on improving the success of your meetings.
After the meeting, get feedback on the meeting from the participants
Reach out to participants regarding the meeting asking the questions mentioned above. Besides helping you improve meeting performance, these brief conversations will help you understand who is truly excited about helping you reach your team’s goals and those that are just going through the motions and perhaps just showing up.
Continually assess your meetings with the goal of improving your team’s performance (and Don’t Stop).
So Iverson was half right, practices (or meetings) that are not done deliberately with the goal of improving performance can be a waste of time and a huge time drain but deliberate-practice (or deliberate-meetings) can lead to championships (or Order of Magnitude value creation) for your team (company).
It is no accident that Kobe Bryant who takes practice very seriously will be seeking to lead The Lakers towards their third championship in a row while Iverson most likely will end his career with none.
Jeff Silbert is the managing director and founder of Order of Magnitude Group, an advisory firm for ambitious CEOs and owners seeking to obtain game-changing valuation growth for their business. Order of Magnitude Group generally works with a select group of clients located between New York City and Philadelphia. More information is available at www.oomgroup.com