Jeremy Lin, point guard for the New York Knicks, has taken the National Basketball Association, ESPN, and every social media outlet by storm. “LINsanity” has erupted to a level only rivaled by Tebowmania. From a relative unknown two weeks ago to the write-in All-Star weekend participant, MVP candidate, and leading jersey seller, Lin’s rise to superstardom has been a true phenomenon. The Harvard-educated point guard obtained a degree in economics, but we get a taste of Lin’s behind-the-scenes project management prowess by playing the hottest game on Twitter…name that LIN.
The LINtegrated Project Plan
Youth league basketball standouts start getting recruited by colleges in middle school. Late bloomers might start receiving college scholarship interest as high school sophomores, definitely juniors, and absolutely as seniors. This was not the case with Jeremy Lin. Jeremy, though growing up a stone’s throw away from Stanford, received very little interest from Division I colleges and universities. Without any basketball scholarships, he knew that if his dream of playing in the NBA was going to be realized, he would need a plan. Lin developed and executed his personal project plan successfully, but not without his fair share of hiccups along the way. His NBA dream led him to a successful career at Harvard, and then on to becoming an undrafted free agent that signed with his hometown team, the Golden State Warriors. After unimpressive stops with two NBA teams, he found himself at the end of the New York Knicks bench. After being “demoted” to the minors, and with the Knicks in desperate need of a new approach, Lin got his big chance three weeks ago. He has since tallied more points in his first six NBA games than anyone in the league’s history. And what did Jeremy Lin show us from a project management perspective? That initiative starts with a plan, but success is achieved by executing it. Ensuring your plan is flexible enough to react to unplanned events, structured enough to drive continuous momentum, and cross-functionally LINtegrated will help deliver your project successfully!
A LINtense Control Process
After a few games, LINsanity was in full swing. The Knicks had rattled off a three-, then a four-, and then a five-game win streak. The team, previously fighting just to make the playoffs, was now looking re-energized. The media networks were buzzing with excitement. Even Madison Square Garden’s stock price experienced a sharp upward spike due to the sold out crowds. Jeremy Lin had single-handedly created a resurgence in Knicks basketball. Upon reviewing his game, it’s clear that his offensive skills are pure, his quickness is obvious, and his vision and awareness are superior. But the aspect of his talent that appears to be ahead of its time (especially for a guy who had struggled to find playing time) was his control of the game. The methods he uses to control the flow and pace of each game are brilliant, and his ability to coordinate his team members—and put them in the best position to score—is a definite strong suit. He appears to have a much clearer vision of how the game will unfold than many of the players around him. Lacking this type of control drives more failure within project management than any other element. A strong grasp of the functional integration within each project, a clear understanding of the long-term impact of today’s activities, and the ability to adjust your strategy based on the latest scenario are all important factors in executing a LINtense control process that will give you the best chance to win!
As the Jeremy Lin phenomenon gained momentum, it became abundantly clear that this movement had caught the interest of more than just sports fans. Political and financial talk shows were taking notice, the reality TV shows were talking about “LINsanity,” and there was a massive surge from the Asian community. Would the buzz be the same without the social media networks? Probably not. Utilizing the latest technology has turned an overnight success in US basketball into a worldwide spotlight event. The same is true in project management. Making use of every technological tool at your disposal can be the difference between a project that gains visibility and notoriety, and one that flies under the radar. Attempting to gain extraordinary results through lackluster means is a sure-fire way to stagnate progress. Take a lesson from Jeremy Lin’s playbook—if you want your project to gain momentum and get people talking, you need to leverage the latest LINovative technologies!
Ensure LINvolved Stakeholders
Cooperation and communication are the cornerstones of any successful team. Watching Jeremy Lin orchestrate a game demonstrates that he has a clear understanding of this premise. From pre- and post-game media events to mid-game adjustments with his team and coaching staff, it’s clear that an ability to effectively communicate and drive well-coordinated teamwork is one of his strengths. In project management, these same skills are essential to success. This is accomplished through the utilization of a consistent planning approach that’s implemented in a structured project control cycle. Ensuring that all stakeholders are communicating in a consistent manner will drive your team to be engaged and LINvolved!
Turn on any sports show throughout the day, open any sports page in any newspaper, or launch any social media application, and you’ll be flooded with messages about LINsanity. It’s a phenomenon, and it’s not by accident. Lin’s agent and management company make certain that every media outlet has enough content on Lin’s successes to continue the public frenzy surrounding this new superstar. Interviews, commentary, news articles, and even tweets are all focused on supplying information about the latest triumphs of Jeremy Lin. The ability to keep stakeholders updated on the progress—or roadblocks—facing your projects is often the difference between a project team staying engaged and one that’s surprised by the latest events. Ensure that your project has consistent report packages and control presentations so that everyone from the team members to the executive office stays well LINformed!
We all love a good success story, especially one that has an unknown character playing the role of hero. Jeremy Lin went from a relative unknown in mid-January to an international mega-star only a month later. He started with a small opportunity to fill a roster decimated by injuries, and turned it into having his NBA jersey sold out in stores across the United States and China. His story is an amazing one, but the core elements of his success are the same ones the rest of us use: hard work, resilience, focus, and drive are largely what got him to this point. Sometimes it really is the simple things that create the biggest buzz and deliver the most LINcredible results!
About Troy McKnight
Troy is a Partner at PMAlliance, and is responsible for new business development and marketing strategy. PMAlliance is a project management training and consulting firm headquartered in Stone Mountain, Georgia, that focuses on improving the execution of strategic projects at Fortune 500 companies. Learn more about PMAlliance at http://www.pm-alliance.com