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The Popovich Approach to Innovation All Facility Managers Need

, , | August 19, 2014 | By

Gregg Popovich is one of the best coaches in the NBA. Winning NBA titles is clear enough evidence. He’s a three time recipient of the NBA Coach of the Year award. He’s also the longest serving head coach among all major professional sports.

With his recent hire of Becky Hammon as an assistant coach, Popovich can add innovator to his notable list of attributes.

An innovator is defined as a person who introduces new methods, ideas or products or just doing something in a different way. An innovator is the first to do something, a trailblazer, a creator, the ‘first.’

With his bold hire of Becky Hammon, Gregg Popovich can clearly be defined as an innovator. Our hats off!

Becky Hammon, retiring from the WNBA after 16 years, is recognized as one of the greatest woman basketball players to play the game. In her sixteen years, she has managed to be one of the only WNBA players to reach 5,000 points. Now she’s the first ever female assistant coach in the NBA.

Rapid City, South Dakota was her birthplace but the court is her home. Becky Hammon was born to be a basketball player. She was born to be a coach. Becky is a lifer. Can you see the pattern here? She’s an innovator, and they both got the gusto to be bold!

There’s no denying their compatibility. Becky Hammon and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich are destined for greatness. He’s a winner. She’s a winner. Popovich is one of the best coaches in the NBA. Becky is recognized as one of the greatest woman basketball players to play the game. These two together…watch out NBA.

It’s undeniable that great leaders embrace change and understand how vital innovation is to achieving success. Shoot, keep it up and success won’t stop there. Read a page from Popovich’s book and you’ll know this immediately.

If you’re a facility manager, listen up. It’s FUNDAMENTAL that you understand the importance of innovation – both for your personal success and for your facility. Do you have the passion all innovators need? Let’s see!

Knowledge Gives You Certainty

For innovators like Popovich and Hammon, the battle for knowing everything is constant. It’s a relentless pursuit of perfection – one that’s never ending. Learning is absolute and it’s always happening with innovators. Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton were innovators, were forever learning, and were eternally questioning.

What did they achieve? Certainty. Undoubtedly knowing slip ups, drawbacks and obstacles happen, but it didn’t matter. They had goals and they knew they could reach them – and nothing could stop them. The answers they found elicited the next set of questions to ask. They defined the standards and created the benchmarks that we reference today. Impact.

"Becky's a basketball lifer. I have a feeling, even at her young age. You can see it. She wants to keep learning." – Greg Popovich

As a facility manager you need to understand the importance of learning, not only your trade, but how your team works together. Your ability to be an innovator is directly proportional to the time you take to understand your trade, train and prepare your staff AND practice, practice, practice.

Are you considering new ways to train your staff? You should definitely check out our blog “10 Reasons You Should Invest in Role-Playing for Safer Events.”

Run through protocols, processes, possible incidents that might occur at your facility, with all your staff. This will provide them with a holistic view of the operation, how it works, and understanding of fluidity. When you give your team the resources on how to respond, why you do it that way and what the effects can be…you’re sharing the wealth…the wealth of knowledge. That’s passing the ball for full court team effectiveness. You’re inspiring them to be innovative. What a concept!

Take note, your operation is only effective if it has complete purpose. The knowledge gained by you and your staff helps to strengthen that purpose. But don’t wait to educate your staff on possible hazards at your facility either. Share all your insights now. Innovators lead the way. They’re not followers. Don’t be a follower. You don’t have to be the first ever woman assistant NBA coach to know this.

Your team will have so much knowledge they’ll be forced to know everything – they’ll have full and complete awareness. Innovators don’t believe in such an idea as ‘too much knowledge.’ Enhancing your team’s awareness is one way of developing an effective team. The more awareness they have the more chances they have to blow your mind. As a result you’ll be the facility manager everyone dreams of working for. Why? Because you empower them, you inspire them, and you show them knowledge is powerful. So powerful it could save lives.

Tie the knowledge and training together by developing communication lines, protocols and processes that support your goals. Your patrons, staff and boss will appreciate the results. You want to look good to your boss, right? Now you’re really blazing the trails!

How well trained and knowledgeable is your team? How prepared are you to lead the way? Are you ready to make moves for the future?

It’s time for a pick and roll, because up next is the “bread and butter” approach to innovation.

Your Work Ethic Leads to Peace of Mind

Your talents and preparation will be tested. Your work ethic will determine your peace of mind. Innovators are the people that never give up and never give in. Even when Becky took heat for her decision to play for the Russian national team in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she never deterred from her plan.

She had peace of mind. Why? She knew her plan, what she wanted to accomplish and how she was going to get there.

Although Coach Popovich hasn't said so, we're sure the decision to hire Becky wasn't clouded with concerns over her gender, or even the notion of doing something first. He had a plan to hire the right assistant coach.

It’s not just a notion for innovators. It’s their way of living: They have a plan. They work hard for it, and never stop striving for it…even after they've achieved greatness.

How does this relate to facility managers? This is how. Your communication lines are established. Your Protocols are in place. All your processes are flowing, efficiently. Your star-studded team is ready. Why? You invested in your knowledge and your work ethic as facility manager and leader has inspired your team to set the way.

You have a plan.

Address Your Interpersonal Skills as a Facility Manager for More Ways to Win

Now your well-ordered machine is innovation-ready. Celebrate it. Your knowledge and hard work is something to be celebrated. You’re one step closer in the right direction. There’s one last consideration to be made.

When was the last time you analyzed yourself? When was the last time you took a step back and said, “What can I improve on in my relationships and the way I work with others?” How are you as a facility manager communicating with your staff?

Take what you know, work for and how you think your team perceives you…and contemplate it a little. You know, analyze it. Analytics can be effective in all aspects of your career as a facility manager, not only operationally speaking. We recommend you check out our blog on “How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Analytics” to understand how undeniably important measuring performance is, and how it affects your ability to innovate.

Look closely at these four interpersonal skills.

  1. Communication. This is what you say and the how you say it. Chew your words before you spit them out. Being able to effectively communicate on all levels should be a given for facility managers, still it’s important to mention here. How do you enhance your verbal communication skills? How do you communicate throughout all the departments in your facility? As a facility manager there are so many approaches to developing your verbal communication skills. Our blog on improving communication across departments can help you build the basis for enhanced communication at your facility. It’ll also help you find the communication breaks. Innovators take their skills and empower others to duplicate it for success as a collective. Communicate how your staff can optimize their communication. Bingo!
  2. Listening Skills. How you interpret both verbal and non-verbal messages received from your peers and staff. Beefing up your listening skills is one way to enhance your awareness. This will trickle down to your team. Listening is an interpersonal skill that facility managers can use to develop their teams ability to gain more knowledge. It’s a cycle with purpose. Listening gives you more knowledge, you can work with it to strengthen your purpose, and continue to analyze and tweak it all the time. Becky takes the time to listen to her mentor, Gregg Popovich. It gives her the information and foresight she needs to improve her skills as a leader and innovator.

"Just listening and observing you can learn a lot. How he manages players, how he manages the team and minutes. How he leads – a tremendous leader – but also X's and O's-wise.” – Becky Hammon on Popovich

  1. Negotiation. Work with your team to find agreement. How do you become an innovator like Popovich? You become an effective leader. That’s how. Never compromise your beliefs, but know when to change. Respond to performance logically and with the reasoning required to execute your purpose…one your whole team believes in, on and off the bench. It doesn't stop there, though. You make agreements with your people so it’s important to walk your talk.
  2. Problem Solving. You already know this is a BIG skill for us! Does it resonate with you? We’re not big gamblers (we like facts) but we’d bet it does. This is how you work with others to identify, define and solve problems at your facility. Sounds like analytics at its core. Do you agree? One more thing, your ability to track, manage and use analytics will make innovating a lot easier.

These aren't only skills innovators can measure. They are qualities of effective leaders that can be immediately applied by facility managers in the workplace. Yes, we get it. There are other various interpersonal skills out there. However, from what we've seen in Becky’s approach and how Popovich has mentored her in the past, these are the core principles facility managers can quickly work to perfect.

You’re always learning, always working and always tweaking. Define your history-making role and inspire others to innovate the way Popovich and Hammon have inspired us.

Make sure you develop this approach before the shot clock runs out and someone else beats you to it.

Heck, facility managers are innovators. You’ll figure it out.

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