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Coach K and Talent Mistakes:

Who says talent assessment is easy?

17Feb

You may know that Duke University won another basketball game this week. Did you also know that Coach Mike Krzyzewski was recognized for his 1,000th win? He shattered previous winning records and begs the question “How does Coach K assess talent and win so many games?”

Coach K says, “Too many rules get in the way of leadership. They just put you in a box … People set rules to keep from making decisions.”

In other words, gather valid data. Assess talent. Make evidence-based decisions.


Another legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, added “I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience, than a lot of experience and a little talent.” You may know that John Wooden led UCLA to national championships in12 years- an unprecedented record.

So how do you assess talent? Consider these 3 examples as you reflect on your business.

  1. Michael Jordan was cut from his High School basketball team, then eventually played as a walk on at the University of North Carolina, later led the Chicago Bulls to 6 national championships, and was recognized as the most valuable player in the National Basketball Association 5 times. Then he became an icon for a sports company called Nike. How did his high school coach miss that talent?
  2. Stephen Curry was raised in Charlotte, NC. Despite the fact that he was well coached by his father, who played pro, Stephen was not able to secure any invitations to play Division I ball at a large school. So, Stephen put Davidson College, a small school on the map. Stephen led them to the sweet 16, and led 3-point scoring records in the NCAA for 2 years. Admissions applications increased some 35% as a result of their success. Since 2009, Stephen led the Golden State Warriors, and has been an NBA all star. How did all those college recruiters miss that talent?
  3. You may know that The Beatles were raised in Liverpool England. Did you know that their high school music teacher determined that both Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who were classmates, “lacked any musical talent?” How did their high school teacher miss their talent?

These examples from sports and music may be analogous to your business. Or not.

Let me be clear. Talent assessment is not easy. Talent assessment combines analytic science (assessments, behavioral observations, interviews) with the art of judgment (evidence-based recommendations.)

Do not waste time or money by acting alone. 

Individuals do not win games. Teams win games. And teams lead businesses. 

Like Coach K, you can increase your win-loss record by partnering with smart consultancies.

For research and consulting solutions, including free talent management software,  visit The Work Institute today.

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