How Are You Keeping Score?

Posted by on August 21, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

Six- and seven-foot glistening bodies crowd around their coach as he shows them a clipboard. He waves his arms excitedly and the protruding veins in his neck suggest that he is yelling instructions at them. When he’s finished yelling, the players run out onto the highly polished wood floor, their long strides causing their satiny shorts to billow around their muscled thighs. One of the team dressed in white and black pumps the ball up and down on the floor as he makes his way toward the opposite goal, then fires the basketball to the tallest of his buddies who is standing under the basket. When three of the other- color shirts surround him, the seven-foot, solemn-faced boy holds the ball up over his head, and with the power of both hands, tosses the ball out to his teammates who have spread themselves into a wide semicircle. Opposing team members run at each player in turn as the ball whips around the outside of the semicircle in a grown-up game of keep away. Then, with the grace and precision of a ballet dancer, one of them lobs the ball toward the hoop from thirty feet away. It slithers down through the net. The TV camera reveals 39,000 spectators in a wild frenzy of clapping, cheering, whistling, and cow bell ringing. Even though I’m alone in my living room, I’m clapping and yelling, too. The announcer says this game is being watched in more than 100 countries around the world.

Why would someone outside America want to watch this game?

After the game, the media begins its staccato barrage of questions: “What did you say to the guys when you took the first time out?” “Did the missed free throws in the third quarter cost you the game?” “What strategy will you use to neutralize the big guys in the post?”

Again I mull over the game’s world-wide appeal.

Is the universal appeal of this game due to the fact that it gives us hope? We watch and are reminded of how miracles can happen when each of us does our job. We see the emotion and the encouragement that passes between the players as everyone works together to put an orange ball through a round metal hoop. You and I want to work with people like that. We want to be part of a team. But we’re already members of a business team and our co-workers are our teammates. When we need to pick up the pace of the game, our managers signal to us from the sidelines. When we’re not playing as a unit, they call time out and remind us of the strategy with a few simple diagrams. We occasionally even see their neck veins. But if all the manager really wants is to see teamwork, and all we really want is to be part of a team, where’s the problem?

I think I’ve figured it out: Orange ball goes through hoop. Eyes look up to the scoreboard. Everyone slaps hands and jumps around. The appeal of the game with the orange ball lies in the simplicity of keeping score. On most business teams, the players who have been asked to win the game have never been given a clear method for keeping score. Consequently, they’re never quite sure when it’s time to slap hands and jump around.

Do you want your company to make a zillion dollars and your people to have more fun than they’ve ever had in their lives? Just call your team together and clearly define how you plan on keeping score. Make sure that everyone sees the score change on the scoreboard each and every time a team member makes a point. Be sure everyone knows when to slap hands and jump around.

Gretta, the receptionist.

At Williams Marketing, no one is allowed to answer the telephones unless they’re qualified to run the company. As you can see, our Gretta definitely meets the requirement.

Roy H. Williams

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