March Madness, a Public Display of Successful Strategy, Leadership & Engagement

Whether you see it this way or not, basketball is a game of strategy, leadership and engagement. This is why March Madness is doubly exciting; it’s not only one of the United States’ biggest annual sporting events, it’s also a unique public display of something we don’t see that often, which is teams working together and achieving greatness as a result of a successful trifecta of strategy, leadership and engagement.

How March Madness Exemplifies Successful Strategy Use: 

In basketball terms, strategy is likened to a “play.” An effective play utilizes each and every member of the team to his best ability. What’s more, for a play to be successful, there must be a key understanding on the part of every player. If a play is proposed, utilized, and for whatever reason unsuccessful, everyone must be willing to pinpoint the problem and come up with a solution, wether that means re-working the play or eliminating that one entirely.

Watch a March Madness game and pay attention to each team. Notice how each team has its own strategies (both for offense and defense) and how they only succeed in playing them out through communication, understanding, flexibility and awareness. The most amazing teams are the ones whose players are visibly in sync with one another, and it’s these teams that are able to create successful plays that successfully propel them forward.

How March Madness Exemplifies Successful Leadership:

To the untrained eye, it may seem as if every NCAA team’s coach is the ultimate leader. However, as Forbes contributing writer Victor Lipman points out in this article, the point guards are the true leaders. Ultimately, Lipman breaks it down to say that good point guards, and therefore good leaders: “have vision,” “understand risk,” “aren’t afraid to make tough decisions” and “are selfless.” These qualities, he argues, are what contribute to a sort of collaborative leadership, which is what enables a team to truly thrive. A good point guard is able to clearly see its players’ best and worst attributes, and tap into those to encourage them to individually do what works best for them. What’s more, good point guards are not risk averse, but similarly don’t take unnecessary risks that could jeopardize their team. A good point guard makes key decisions — quickly — without wavering, and the entire team trusts that he can do so. Finally, a powerful point guard simply isn’t a “ball hog.” He passes the ball, shares the love and has high trust that his teammates will do a great job.

How March Madness Exemplifies Powerful Engagement:

According to Media Life magazine, “The Super Bowl is the biggest single-day event in sports, and the World Cup is the biggest quadrennial tournament. The Olympics draw the largest viewership over an extended period, and the World Series has the most storied history. But March Madness tops them all in terms of sheer viewer involvement. It’s the only sporting event credited with draining work productivity, as employees fill out brackets and sneak peeks at the games, which are played during work hours.

March Madness isn’t just about the content, in other words, the games. It’s about bringing users (viewers or fans) into the stadium or luring them to turn their TVs on. Rather, March Madness has become all about the game that centers around the game: filling out brackets and comparing your guesses to those of your friends. This is one of the best, most simple, most effective examples of excellent user engagement in modern times. So what can we learn from this? March Madness makes it easy, fun and almost implicit what you should do to become involved in the hype. Equally as significant, March Madness itself has become an entity that’s fun to discuss or listen to even if you don’t really like basketball. In that respect, it’s sort of a phenomenon. We think it all comes down to ease of use and user empowerment. And, in all its simplicity, isn’t that what user engagement is all about?

So, next time you sit down to watch a March Madness game, see what you can pick out from the teams or the event itself that exemplifies strategy, leadership or engagement. It’s the perfect excuse to watch sports — and learn in the process!

Photo Thanks To: D34n

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