The IPL Bonanza

So, the IPL 2009 edition is finally over.  Was it more exciting than the 2008 edition?  Not entirely sure, but it was an incredible spectacle in itself.  While not really having the qualifications to comment on the quality of cricket, I think the take-backs from the event for those of us in a 9-to-whatever are interesting.  Not necessarily path-breaking, but interesting.

  • Organization Potentially fatal announcement to move out of the country.  Decision on location made in hours of negotiation.  Approximately 35 days of time to prepare for an event of this scale and length.  Take-backs: Courage to make decisions and belief in the team to pull it off.  Don’t you think more CEOs would benefit from this outlook?
  • Motivation Money was just the beginning.  Creating or maintaining an individual reputation became equally important.  But how about the team?  The team owners were ruthless in their pursuit of the best teams.  Big names were found warming the bench due to lack of performance or attitude.  The strategies which succeeded were where people were given an opportunity and evaluated based on the results.  The team behaviour award from the IPL has been a masterstroke in this effort.  Take-backs: Clear vision of the qualities that an organization wants to encourage, their articulation and appropriate felicitation.
  • Teamwork Which teams won?  The teams which avoided confusion, confrontation and panic – T20 is that kind of a game.  How was this done – clear division of roles and responsibilities.  There have been several examples of players playing specific roles that have been pre-decided in the dressing room.  This is not about specific strategies, but about getting the best out of the abilities of individuals, no matter what their weaknesses are.  Take-backs: Clearly identify the responsibility of every team member – no matter how small.  Then give them the space to perform within that boundary.  Reward based on role, not overall performance (can’t expect a #7 batsman to score a 50).
  • Transformation Incredible!  The #7 and #8 teams from 2008 meet in the final of 2009!  What gives?  However, if you look closely, DC lineup is almost identical to the whipping boys of last year, while the RC boys also have minimal changes.  The difference is based on a studied and strong application of the above principles which have transformed a 2-run loss into a 2-wicket win. Take-backs: Transformation of a team is not necessarily about the personnel.  A change in the management methodology and a re-iteration of team concepts can bring about wonders.
  • Branding So who is the most successful brand of the IPL?  Well, according to some market research, the honor belongs to KKR – the least successful team on the field.  The question then becomes which one is more important?  Was the KKR team looking to be the best brand and not necessarily the best team?  The media blitz does indicate a propensity in that direction.  The strategy is questionable, but that is not the point here. Take-backs: The aim of an organization should be clear – this is what needs to translate into the efforts of every individual on the team.

I think students and practitioners of management would do well to study some of the on-field and off-field activities of IPL organizers and teams.  This event has been a success, which was not a given at the start of the year, through these efforts.  I look forward to next year to see how teams refine their individual strategies based on the personnel they have – something that has not been mastered yet.