What does it take to go from good to great?

Los Angeles in the 1980’s Showtime was at its prime, and the Laker’s were on top of the world for much of the decade. They won the NBA Finals in 1984-1985, followed by a good campaign in the 1985-86 season but not good enough to get back to the NBA Finals. During the summer break, Pat Riley came up with a way to try and make what he considered a great team even better. In a nutshell, he broke down everyone’s lifetime stats in multitude of different categories and asked them to improve by 1%. Riley was careful to stress that it wasn’t just about stats though, it was about every player giving his “best effort spiritually and mentally and physically”. Starting with the 86 season the Lakers would go on to win back to back NBA Titles.

Conversely, after the 85 Bears dominated their way a Super Bowl victory, Mike Ditka bought all the players shirts on their arrival at training camp in 86. Printed on them was the question; are you satisfied? Apparently the Bears were. While they had a great regular season of 14-2 in 1986, only one off their campaign from the previous year, they were ousted in the first round by the Washington Redskins. Years later, the players would talk about the difference in those two years. The year where they won the Super Bowl, everyone was hungry and hung together; the year after, they would say it was not so much bonding and guys were skipping out after practice to go to speaking engagements.

As a leader, coach or mentor, are you satisfied with your team’s performance or could you use a method like Pat Riley’s to help them achieve even more?

For a more detailed explanation of the method of tracking that Pat Riley used please refer to James Clear’s article.   Many thanks to Flickr for these photographs.riley-ditka

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