Just play like Bill Russell

I’m a believer in sticking with fundamentals and keep an eye on your goals. Flavor of the day management just leads to zigzag results with up not an option. So I was particularly pleased to read what Scott Berkun, author of The Myths of Innovation, gleaned from the management  style that led the Boston Celtics to an NBA title.

I found some parallels between the Celtics, who had their own dark days and lean times, and the newspaper industry.

Berkun gives Boston General Manager Danny Ainge credit for risking it all and trusting his employees. Maybe one thing that’s wrong with newspapers is there are not enough Danny Ainges to go around.

While Berkun didn’t mention him, the management and work ethic espoused by his post reminded me of Celtic great Bill Russell, the center of the Boston dynasty in the glory years and a player renown for playing great defense and elevating the defensive play of his teammates rather than showboating dunks.

Berkun found five big themes in Boston’s success that can be translated elsewhere, like say newspapers in the midst of a double-team by a sick economy and industry-wide structural change.

His starting five:

  • Great managers hire great talent.
  • Focus on the fundamentals.
  • Reward team based behavior.
  • Trust your people.
  • Use the past as power.

Heard them before, I’m sure. But they are paritcularly appropriate, I believe, for newspaper companies.