Friday, March 27, 2009

Board Minutes? No, Board Moments

I expected Duke to go further into the playoffs. Unfortunately for phenomenal Coach Mike Krzyzewski, his new book The Gold Standard: Building a World-Class Team (Business Plus) landed on my desk just as his team was falling victim to Villanova.

Over the years I have published a few articles that attempted to affirm the notion of the board as a team. The proposition is enticing. Elements of teamwork certainly apply, such as a group of individuals coming together, pledging themselves to serve an organization, and dedicating their collective efforts to achieve set objectives — profitability, revenue, market share, product innovation, a transformational deal ... whatever directors most want to see on the scoreboard when the whistle blows at the end of the quarter or fiscal year.

As attractive as the notion is, the concept of the board as a team has its holes. Board members generally meet too infrequently to be convincingly called a team. And often the charge is leveled that directors act more as a collection of No. 1 draft picks rather than a cohesive coterie of balanced talents. So this is one theory of board dynamics that is unsettled.

But back to Mike Krzyzewski. In his new book he offers another way to define the nature of teams and teamwork, and it's one in which you can bring boards onto the team bench. Here's how Coach K lays it out:

"The time you spend as a team is defined by moments: moments that unite, create understanding, and allow you to discover your collective identity. These moments make you one, make you better, make you proud. Some moments are planned. You know they need to happen, so you design them. But there are other moments that happen on their own, a natural by-product of team formation. Still other moments pass by unnoticed until you discover their importance later on. You come to realize what they really mean and how critical they actually were.

"How do you build a team?" Coach K continues. "Embrace moments. Plan for moments. There are moments of anger, moments of joy, moments of togetherness, and sometimes just moments of awareness. Learn how to recognize them, facilitate them, reevaluate them, and, most important, share them. They are the lifeblood of your team."

Bad timing for Coach K to have his new book come out just as his team fell short in the run to the big show. But never a bad time to impart his wisdom on team building — something that, especially in these trying times, could bring more boards together in common strength and spirit.