Tuesday, May 13, 2008

IPL - Corporate Franchisees and the Sportsman Spirit

Vijay Mallya is the first to come out in the open with his feelings but I suspect there are more to follow. After all it is not easy to digest a bad loss after spending a fortune. Especially for corporate leaders who are used to winning corporate games. It's bad for the image.
If corporate India thought it could walk into a domain like cricket and expect their team to win, it should have prepared accordingly. It should have taken the trouble to understand the dynamics, players, strengths, limitations. The same rules apply here.
If you want your team to win, set your priorities right. What's the goal? How do you achieve it? What is the best combination of players that will achieve it for you? Who is the leader who will deliver the cup? What are the roles and responsibilities? What's the preparation required? What is the support required? At what stage do we seek correction if things are not according to plan? What is the detailed action plan? What is plan B and when do we enforce it? How do you ensure that the team plays together as a unit to achieve the goal? Who is responsible overall for the team's show?
Assuming that the RC team had a clear goal (they looked good for the semi final atleast), they do not seem to have spent enough time thinking of the other things. Preparation, leadership, combination, tactics. Rahul Dravid, in my opinion is a great player even in T20 and deserves the icon status but as a leader he is not the kind who can pull a diverse bunch of strong individuals into a winning unit. Team selection is a specialist area - leaving it out to one man, even if he is the captain is a grave error. That's why there are committees to balance out any judgmental errors. Surprisingly the team that RC picked, though oldish, is still far better player to player vis-a-vis say Rajasthan Royals or Mumbai Indians. And now, with support fast vanishing for the team, any hope of recouping now will be a miracle-not good corporate management.
The management's prime concern at this stage could be finding out why the combination didn't gell and make appropriate corrections rather than sacking a non-cricketing CEO who has almost no role to play in player performances, blaming the captain for poor team selection and abandoning the team by saying that its a team that it did not want.
These are signs of lazy and uninspiring management. It reflects badly on the corporate image; even worse than losing matches. Sports and games are about playing hard and giving your best. Spectators and consumers understand that you win some and lose some. They will cheer the one match that you get things right and return again hoping for a better show the next match. But what they don't forgive is lack of sportsman spirit - abandoning your team just because you don't make a pretty picture at the end of the match.
Winning is one thing but maintaining your dignity in loss is quite another. What they say is true-you learn more about a person in one hour of sport than you can in ten years of knowing. Hopefully there will be gains eventually. The cricketers will learn to win and the franchise managements will learn a bit about sportsman spirit.

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