Joseph Jude

Consult . Code . Coach

Lessons I learned from IPL


biz . learning

Unlike most of the Indian populace, I'm no fan of Cricket. It looked so boring.

That was until IPL came along. IPL followed the short and fast version of the game named T20. Suddenly it was interesting.

I was interested in IPL for one more reason. It brought corporate world into Indian sports; it was interesting to watch corporate principles on the play. As the game was played with intensity and passion, I observed few lessons that I could learn from IPL.

A chance to learn from superstars

IPL provided an opportunity for the young players to rub shoulders with the legends of the game. Those who grew up having Tendulkar (or any other likes) as a role model were bowling against him! With a packed schedule these players got an opportunity to observe the legends, seniors and other international players in close range. I'm sure that these players have 'come of age' with such close association.

In the IT industry, open source movement provides such an opportunity. There are many fantastically designed Open Source applications and frameworks. One can either contribute (in terms of development, testing, documentation and so on) to such libraries/frameworks or create their own applications using them. This will definitely enrich the programming experience. I've used/using wxWidgets, Django, libXML and jQuery and each of these have given me a superb exposure to design, programming and different implementation styles.

Money isn't everything; there is honor

Franchises paid obscenely high amounts to iconic players and some non-iconic players too. All of these ridiculously expensive players fumbled on the field, except Dhoni, who led his team into finals. Most valuable players were from the cheapest of the teams - Rajastan Royals. While the flamboyant owners of the expensive teams bit dust, the cheapest team brought home, honor after honors. They went on to play one of the finest cricket rather than worried about their "low pay".

Such thought process is way too common in management. There are many instances where 'icon players' are paid ridiculously high amounts and they don't appear anywhere near 'valuable players'. Working in such environments is a depressing one - one works their ass out while another gets to go home with a hefty package.

On the other hand, I've seen juniors complaining about their 'low pay' and let go many opportunities to learn.

It seems an ironic truth that 'higher the cost; lower the value'. It has been proved many-a-times in corporate world; and one more time in IPL.

Team composition - a must for a win

Very few teams got their fundamentals right - forming a balanced team. While it is essential to have 'super' skilled batsmen or a bowler, in an intense game like T20, it is imperative to compose the team in a well balanced way - a disciplined team skilled in all matters of the game, led by an inspiring skipper. There is no other substitute for victory; and an ongoing victory march.

It is a common misconception that hiring an 'icon' will guarantee a win. An IIM MBA or an IIT architect alone can not do miracles; one needs to invest in the entire team. Recent trend in IT management seems to be that throw away seniors; we will 'use' freshers and deliver projects. Sadly that doesn't work.

Another important lesson in team management is that everyone should be treated equally. Warne mentioned in an interview that any player who is late for the practice is fined - even Watson. In corporate world it is a known practice to exclude the elites from all 'restrictive processes'.

Leadership is not a privilege; it is a responsibility

Captains of all teams, especially top ones, led by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other team mates. They didn't order their fellow team mates to play better while enjoying a Caribbean cruise; rather Warne, Dhoni and Yuvi inspired their teams by getting their hands dirty - they scored runs and took wickets, when demanded. They kept a higher yardstick to measure their performance and they strived to live up to it.

I've repeatedly seen that the most inspired team is the one where the leader/manager stands one among the team inspiring them with actions. When a leader fail to command respect and inspire the team, the spirit of the team decompose and they don't make much of headway.

It is also important for leadership to create an environment where the teams can thrive with a definite goal in mind. Once such an environment is set, stand aside and let the team enjoy their work. Don't micro-manage.

Two quotes of George Patton are relevant: Always do everything you ask of those you command. Never tell them how to do; Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with results.

Each game is a new one

While it is true that each win builds confidence, successful teams didn't become complacent in their past glory - they faced each game with a passion, to win. They adapted a strategy specific to the circumstances of that day. Those teams didn't allow their occasional failures to derail their progress. They adapted a winning strategy and won again.

A business leader/manager can't rest in past glory. A blind implementation of 'Best Practices' from past victories will not guarantee success. It needs to be tailored to the situation at hand.

Evaluate the current scenario and implement a suitable strategy; review and if its not working, modify it on the field. If one falters to take decision on the field, the team will loose its confidence to win (and probably respect for the leader too). While corporate business and cricket are different domains, IPL has brought them together. We will definitely see more of corporate practices in the coming years of IPL.

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