Chapter 3. 12 Qualities of Effective Design Organizations

IN 2011, THINGS BEGAN to turn around for NBA basketball team the Golden State Warriors. After years of apathetic leadership and poor performance, new owners made big moves, trading perceived franchise player Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut and hiring coach Mark Jackson. The next couple of years saw more talent acquisition, such that by 2013–2014, the team had its core roster: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Andrew Bogut. And even though they won 50 games for the first time in 20 years, they lost in the first round of the playoffs. Internal turmoil tore up the coaching staff, as Mark Jackson’s approach seemed to be one of “my way or the highway”—assistants who disagreed with him were let go, and players were pitted against each other. After the playoffs, Mark Jackson was fired, to be replaced by Steve Kerr, who installed a new coaching staff, and a much more inclusive and joyful management style that welcomed respectful disagreement in search of the best answer. Under such leadership, and with no significant roster changes, the Warriors dominated the league, winning 67 games and the NBA championship.

There are two lessons for any team. The first is that skill and talent matter. By making big roster moves, the Warriors made back-to-back playoffs for the first time in over 20 years. But talent isn’t sufficient. The second lesson is that to get the most out of a team requires sensitive ...

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