Creating Great Teams: Lessons From Basketball

Creating Great Teams: Lessons From Basketball

Public and private-sector organizations today have to be “ready for anything.” That’s because customer and stakeholder expectations change quickly and unpredictably, technology is advancing, issues like the opioid epidemic explode, and it’s hard to know what’s coming next. In such a volatile, unpredictable, complex environment, organizations and their teams must develop ways to quickly adapt to sudden and unanticipated challenges. Basketball is a good model to learn from, because great basketball teams are very good at responding to fast-changing situations: a turnover, a sudden change in the opponent’s defense, a missed signal, an injury, etc.

In this session I team up with Dan Bonner, a former college basketball player and coach who’s been a color commentator for basketball games on TV for over 30 years. Using video clips from games that he called, Dan relates how successful coaches help their teams be ready for anything. And I offer participants practical methods and strategies to translate Dan’s tips into the participants’ own work.

More specifically, the issues we discuss include:
  • How to empower individuals and teams to respond quickly to change, while minimizing the risks of poor quality/bad decisions.
  • What does it take to be a “glue guy” on a basketball team (those who make a big difference in ways that often go unnoticed)? And how to promote “glue behaviors” in your own staff?
  • How to create an environment that encourages innovative thinking and acting, without losing accountability?
  • How can you ensure that all of your staff understand the importance of looking for ways to make themselves useful?
  • “Be quick but don’t hurry” (from legendary basketball coach John Wooden). How can you and your staff be quick about certain things - say, getting relevant information on a complex issue - without unnecessarily hurrying on other tasks, like making decisions about that issue?
What You’ll Leave With:
  • Quick and powerful methods for ensuring that everyone’s on the same page before and during major activities.
  • A method for helping your staff and teams be very flexible.
  • An easy-to-use template for empowering staff.
  • An understanding of how to quickly shift from a hierarchical to flat culture, as the situation requires.
  • Tips for creating openness and candor among your staff.
  • The ability to use “stand-up meetings” and “pre-briefs,”
  • Practical ideas for helping everyone to be a “glue guy”.

Workshop Length

Half day.

Cost for this workshop:

$1,500 plus expenses.

This is the cost to put on the workshop for groups up to 30, at the client’s location.

NOTE: Workshops are customized for each client, and are offered at a location and on a date suitable for the client.

Who Should Attend:

Middle and senior managers who work in fast-changing environments and need to get their teams to anticipate and be more responsive to quick changes, while maintaining quality and accountability.



Phone: 434.242.8586

What Participants say about Creating Great Teams: Lessons From Basketball

What do participants say about Creating a team that’s ready for anything: Lessons from successful basketball teams? ”Russ did a great job of teaching the class. The basketball coach was a great outside speaker; I loved his ideas and video clips.”

“Exceptional class; very applicable to our workplace.. And Dan (Bonner) added a very strong dynamic to the class.”

“Russ is a very strong teacher. His use of video clips, readings and small group activities were perfectly balanced. He is incredibly knowledgeable, and uses case studies to illustrate his points.”

“Russ was a great instructor, who provided additional assistance and coaching for my leadership challenge. And he provided a special guest speaker, which really added to the course.”