Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Good to Great

Anyone who has gone to Business School in the last five years probably had to read Good to Great. While it focuses on business leaders, there is a sports reference buried deep inside the book. The author Jim Collins mentions John Wooden’s tenure at UCLA. The Wizard of Westwood coached at the school for 15 seasons before finally winning a championship, which sparked one of the greatest runs in team sports history. Making the leap from good to great is extremely difficult…yet when reading the book I immediately started hoping that TOB had that leap in him. The leap has been a somewhat of a theme for this blog this summer (see below) and when a message board poster (HJS) suggested that someone send a copy of the book to TOB, I decided to conclude the last day before kickoff with an overview of Collins’ keys to greatness and if TOB is headed there.

Level 5 Leader: Level 5 is Collins’ highest level of leadership. However, he found the Level 5s are not exactly what you would expect. They are not exclusively the rah rah, big speech, big idea types. The Level 5s tend not to make a big splash on arrival. They are slower and more methodical in their approach and results. BC fans want a Coughlin-esque tough talker, but the former BC coach and current Giants coach would probably not qualify as a Level 5. TOB seems to have the personality for the Level 5. This is a good thing.

First Who, Then What: This idea is get the right people on board and then figure out who should do what. It also covers everyone buying in. TOB certainly has the people he wants in place -- the staff has been mostly intact for seven years. So that is covered. There are still major questions about whether or not they are the right people.

Confront the brutal Facts: TOB has certainly done this -- to the annoyance of many fans like me. He is constantly talking about the challenges building and winning at BC (academics, the region, weather, etc.). Great companies know their challenges and then work around or through them. I don’t think Collins would appreciate TOB using them as a crutch with the media like he does.

The Hedgehog Concept: Find out what you do and do it well. Under TOB we will never be a run and gun, 50 points a game team. It is not in him. So we need to build physical teams that play controlled, error-free football. I think TOB knows this. Now the question is can we improve our quality of play so that this style is more effective against the better teams in college football. This also means no more WTFs.

Culture of Discipline: Pretty straight forward. I would say TOB has this for the most part. However, there are the occasional cracks here and there.

Technology Accelerators: Not really applicable to football. (One could say adopting new techniques, but I haven’t seen anything that really fits the examples in the book.)

The Flywheel: This covers the forward momentum that greatness carries. Once you create something great, it can become so powerful that it moves forward on its own. We are clearly not there yet.

Conclusion: I bet TOB has read the book. Even if he hasn’t he clearly has established many of the keys to Collins’ guide. But that still means nothing. TOB needs results and soon. If he goes on a nice three or four year run and wins two ACC titles, we can look back on what he did and say “he built something great.” If we go 8-4 this year and 8-4 next year, he might as well retire. Seriously...because he’d be done with a lot of people. BC has never been in a better position regarding its conference, its facilities and the school itself. The powers of our conference are in a down cycle. Our non-conference schedule is hollow. Greatness is waiting to happen. Can TOB take us there? The answers to that question begin Thursday.

Good to Great Summer 2006

-- Outside Opinion: Bob Ryan, Burnt Orange, Dodgy at Best

-- Building a Staff

-- Improving after nine years

-- The best and worst of TOB Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Talent issues (here and here)