Thursday, June 7, 2007

Lessons from basketball v2.0: job rotation

Playing basketball in secondary school under the great Conan Doyle taught me a lot of important lessons that can be applied in many areas of life. Through team sports things that you learn about teamwork, training and commitment not only serve you in terms of sports but also in the business world, and more importantly in life in general. One of these lessons I learnt was the concept of job/task rotation.

From an early stage in your basketball days, you tend to be set in a certain position “you are a point guard” and trained to be good at performing the tasks expected for that role. For example if you are the point guard, you become great at bringing the ball down the court, calling the plays and getting the right pass to the right player. If you are a post player, your job is to put yourself in the right position to get the ball and control the area around the basket. You eventually become so familiar with your role that you can get stuck in a rut where you view everything through the viewpoint of your position exclusively.

The major problem with this, is that the player in question often becomes totally ignorant as to what the other players on the court experience, usually leading to arguments over "why didn’t you make that pass", "why didn’t you get open" etc. One of the ways this can be easily countered is to switch around the roles on the court, for instance get a player who usually receives to bring the ball down the court etc and vice versa.

When you experience what the other party has to do on a regular basis, it increases your ability to understand the situation as a whole, rather than from your closed viewpoint, and can give you a much greater appreciation for your team-mates contribution.
Now the passer realises how hard it is for the player to make space for himself, and the receiver now understands that making that pinpoint pass really isn’t all that easy.

Michael wade of Execupundit offers a good example of this situation in a work environment
Prior to the job switching, there was a tendency to think, "I'm the only person who does serious work around here. My co-workers just cruise through the day."

After playing musical chairs for a while, however, each one confessed to a failure to appreciate the challenges faced by their co-workers. Not one expressed interest in a long stay in the other positions.

A good example that I have seen benefit from task rotation is fistfulofboomsick's own Matthew Kelly, a good friend and team-mate of mine in secondary school, Matt was set as a guard from a young age, more recently was forced to play an alternate position for a different team, and although at first he didn’t like it, he has become a much more versatile player, capable of filling many roles and has got a much deeper understanding of the game of basketball and other players’ on-court experience. So much so, that last year he was selected for the Irish u-20 team.
If you want a group of people who truly understand how your organisation/team works and appreciates other members contributions, rotation is where its at.


Matt said...

point forward's = succesful businessmen

Kitten12 said...

Hello there, my name is Kathryn Williamson. I am doing a school paper,and I was wondering if I could use the basketball image for the paper. So if you could please email me back at:
then i would truely be thankful!

Robby said...


My Name is Roland and im doing a coursework from St. Marks Catholic School.

It would be a great pleasure if you could give me permission for the basketball image to use for my coursework.

hope to hear from you.
my email adress is

thank you for your time!