The Los Angeles Lakers have a new coach and it’s not Phil Jackson. Laker’s fans were hoping management could persuade the former coach to come out of retirement and get the NBA team back to championship status.
But, how successful is the “out with new in with the old” strategy?
In the movie business it worked for the Bond franchise. Sean Connery quit playing James Bond after You Only Live Twice and was replaced by this guy:
United Artists paid a hefty price to get Connery back and the next Bond flick, Diamonds are Forever, made millions more. But sports economist Andrew Zimbalist says: Time out! “You can’t just say there’s some algorithm or formula that says at some particular point down the road you bring back the old guy.”
“When do companies look back to go forward,” says Alan Dye, professor of economics at Barnard College, “when the company has taken a wrong turn and the board decides they need a leader to return the company to its original vision and core strength.”
Gautam Mukunda is author of Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter. Mukunda says great companies — great organizations of any kind — are more than a group of people dedicated to winning or making a profit. He says they have identities and values that often come from the original founder, think Steve Jobs. So, Mukunda agrees with Dye, it makes sense to bring back the guy who created the values, if a company has strayed from them.
“But if that’s not the problem,” says Mukunda, “If the problem is that you’ve slipped at operational excellence, then you need someone that’s great at operational excellence.”
So — do the Lakers need their spiritual leader back, or just someone who can coach? The shot clock is ticking.
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