Lessons from the Spurs

Posted on April 19, 2017 by Danny Windsor

The NBA has recently started the playoff series.  Every team that made the playoffs is once again re-energized as they and their fans start a “new season” with renewed hopes of ultimately winning an NBA championship.  One of the most successful teams in the last eighteen years, both during the regular season and the playoffs, have been the San Antonio Spurs.  “Since ’99, San Antonio has a regular season record of 969-383.  They have made the Western Conference finals eight times, advanced to the Finals five times and won four NBA championships(Walsh, p.31).”  This record is impressive by any account.  How have the Spurs been so successful during this stretch among the most intensive competition?  In an article about the Spurs concerning their success in Slam, Peter Walsh touches on several keys to the Spurs success.  I believe the keys revealed in the article have relevance to any organization trying to thrive in today’s competitive business environment.   Note the following:

  • It starts with the Leader– It is no coincidence that the Spurs successful streak started and has continued with their head coach, Gregg Popovich.  The leader sets the tone and the example for the whole organization.  “Pop is an innovator.  He leads the charge in a lot of areas of coaching especially at this level,” says Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Brown, a member of Pop’s staff from 2000-03.  He does not rest in terms of thinking about the past.  He’s always thinking about what he can do to change the Spurs better going forward( Walsh, p.32).”
  • It’s Built with Talent– In Popovich’s second year the Spurs were fortunate to draft Tim Duncan. The Spurs successful fortunes began almost immediately with the arrival of Duncan.  One of his former teammates, Boris Diaw, had this to say about Duncan, “The thing with Tim is he was such a great teammate and team player and focused so much on winning and playing the right way that the franchise turned into his character and it’s been a good thing for the team for a long time(Walsh, p.31).”
  • It Implements the right System– Even with a great leader and top talent, a company will never reach its full potential without the right system for its unique way of doing business. Diaw said concerning the Spurs, “The Spurs are good at what they do.  they are good at finding the right guys who will fit the system…Those players who were not blossoming somewhere else but are doing great here is because of the system(Walsh, p.32).”

Any organization can learn from the Spurs to reach their full potential.

*Walsh, Peter, (May 2017), Culture, SLAMONLINE.COM

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