Los Angeles Lakers is one of the greatest franchises in the history of modern sports. They won the NBA championship 16 times and missed the play-offs just five times! I have always admired the “championship-or-bust” mentality of this organization. After a couple of “relatively” unsuccessful seasons, the Lakers decided to assemble a “super team.” They signed four future-Hall of Famers, and hired a magician coach. They were expected to be uber-dominant – to win it all this year. Be that it may, the Lakers have lost 21 of their first 37 regular season games! They also lost all 8 of their preseason games. So, the super team won only 16 of its last 45 games. Clearly, something is not working, and I think it has nothing to do with basketball. Just like in the Raptors’ case, this is an “organizational” issue…
Los Angeles Lakers’ current slump demonstrated us the validity of systems thinking. The organization tried to enhance the overall performance of the system by improving particular parts. On paper, such thinking should work just fine. But in real world, where life organizes as systems, such thinking is counterproductive. If you don’t believe me, watch this hilarious and insightful 10-minute video, which was recorded 20 years ago. Russ Ackoff (R.I.P.), one of the great sages of our time, explains how the Lakers organization got into such a mess. If you are too busy, you could fast forward to the minute 5:50 of the video.
A system is not the sum of the behaviors of its parts. It is the product of their interactions.