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The Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils Aren’t Sports Organizations

The Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils Aren’t Sports Organizations

The next big theme is titled, “The Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils Aren’t Sports Organizations.” I know many people are going to say, “But, Michael, what are you talking about? That’s an NBA team and an NHL team. Of course, they’re sports organizations.”

This is building on the theme of the previous Monday Morning 8 a.m. where I mentioned that Tesla isn’t an electric car company and Disney+ isn’t a streaming service. I received a lot of good, positive feedback, and people liked those examples.

Recently, I had a nice discussion with Scott O’Neil, a fabulous guy who’s the chief executive officer of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment. He’s also the chief executive officer of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils. We spoke about many things—his family, his life, his kids—a wide-ranging discussion about how he manages stress, makes decisions and how he programs himself to shut out the noise and focus on the most important things to make the right decisions.

I also talked to him about his ability to look at his organization in different ways. Yes, it’s a sports team, but in the same way that Starbucks is a third place away from home and office, the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils can be thought of in two ways.

First, they are asset managers who manage one of the most precious assets in the world: the dreams of young children. Young children are deeply inspired by pro-athletes. These are men and women who push themselves to the physical limit to do impossible things on the court. At the same time, they’re really happy people. They’re always smiling. After a difficult game where they’ve been hammered from every single side, they’re willing to sign autographs and make a young kid feel happy. Those are quite amazing people. But they’re not just a sports team only. They are asset managers for the dreams of young children and older people as well.

Another way of looking at them is that they’re a roster of role models. Yes, they need to win games. But if they win games but have such off-putting personalities and off-putting antics that they’ve alienated children and fans, they’re not going to be a successful franchise for long. They’re not going to groom people from a young age to want to watch their games.

The insight here is that as you think about your organization and yourself, don’t just think, “I am the chief operating officer of a bank,” or, “I am the senior vice president of strategy planning at the world’s fourth largest utility.” You have to think about the unique dimension in which you compete. What business are you in? If you’re not in a business but you’re employed, you’re also in a business because you have clients that hire you and pay your salary. We all need to be thinking about how to rethink an organization, just like Scott O’Neil.

This is an excerpt from Monday Morning 8 a.m. newsletter, issue #21. Many of you have found Monday Morning 8 a.m. so useful that you’ve asked us to release a book version of these newsletters. We’ve obliged and released a Kindle version, which you can find on Amazon under “Strategy Insights.” It contains the insights from previous Monday Morning 8 a.m. issues, edited into a bite-sized format that’s very easy to use. And you can learn about other FIRMSconsulting books here

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