5 Lessons On Innovation We Can Learn From The Wildcats’ Platoon Strategy

Platoon Method (1000x300)

College basketball never ceases to amaze me. Such is the case with the recent string of successes achieved by Coach John Calipari of top-ranked University of Kentucky Wildcats by using the “platoon method” to destroy (and I’m being modest by saying destroy) the competition.

To more effectively innovate, it’s often an invaluable exercise to turn our eyes and attention to the unusual strategies being deployed in adjacent industries and markets that otherwise would have little connection to our own.

Could our health system (and other markets) benefit from a similar platoon strategy?

Let me explain.

Basketball is a sport that requires endurance, discipline, and most importantly a creative playbook.  While the typical playbook involves substituting players one at a time to give players a breather and to effectively match up against opponents, the ‘platoon method involves a 5-person swap in a single substitution swoop. While such a strategy has been deployed occasionally in the past by UNC and Duke, Coach Calipari of the University of Kentucky Wildcats has transformed the method of platoon substitutions into a true art form that is making it difficult for others to compete.  His performance speaks for itself with a so far, unbeatable 9-0 record.

5 Platoon Lessons (1000x300)

Below are 5 lessons from the ‘Platoon Method‘ that can be applied to innovating in health (and any other industry for that matter).

  1. Small changes can reap big results.  Sport strategies often involve evolutions of existing playbook methodologies. Such is the case with the platoon strategy; however, executed intelligently, such a small change can reap big results.  When assessing new innovative opportunities in health (or any other industry), not all successes require big bets. Some simply involve re-evaluating existing strategies reconfigured in unusual ways to open up new opportunities.
  2. Fresh new players bring in new, unusual perspectives. Swapping out 5 players simultaneously gives the team an opportunity to re-evaluate the opponent with a different lens having just observed the game from the bench.  Innovation too can frequently benefit by bringing in fresh new eyes with differing perspectives from those that have been closely observing the situation. Don’t be afraid to pull folks off the organizational bench from different areas of your company to explore new, unusual ideas.
  3. Shake up your opponents.  Part of the game is finding ways to catch your opponent off guard when they least suspect it. Bringing in new innovative players to your team can do just that, and put your competition in a head-spin wondering whats coming next.
  4. Glory is achieved when the team wins (not an individual).  It would seem many players would be upset when being swapped out just when your personal game was starting to heat up.  This is true for the selfish players seeking egotistical accolades; however the real winners are those who sacrifice themselves for the glory of the team.  After all, what good is it if you consistently perform the game of your life only to come out losing every game in the end. Better to be on a winning team willing to sacrifice for one another, then to be a star player with a losing record. Great innovative teams know how to play collaboratively without being selfishly pompous.
  5. Re-invent the game.  When push comes to shove, sometimes challenging the basic assumptions is in order.  For decades, single player substitutions has dominated the strategic playbook of basketball.  As with any groundbreaking innovation, sometimes it requires one to re-write the rules and make others scramble to adapt to your new approach. One can argue that the health industry is at a critical juncture where, quite frankly, in order to move the needle, it may require us to re-write the playbook.

That’s all I got to say about that. #ThinkUnusual

QUESTION: What are some unusual strategies you have learned from adjacent industries?

Please comment below.

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