We have all seen NBA games and how emotional they can be. The playoffs are a thing that everybody in the world watches and the finals are comparable to the super bowl in the United States. NBA players are stars and they commit 200% to the game and the dynamics of such game. They have coaches, owners, players, strategy planners, bench coaches, managers, fans balls, tools, equipment and many other things that make the game a total spectacle
If you take a close look you will find that many things within the basketball game, and within any team, sports played out there, are very similar to the logistics terms and concepts used by professionals that carry goods and services all around the world. We are not talking about the way the deliver goods or get service to their teams. We are talking more about the dynamics of the game and how they are similar to any supply chain out there with players (staff) that deliver (scores) and with managers (directors or owners of logistic companies) that get together and plan strategies.
Let’s take a look at those parts of the NBA game that are comparable to supply chain approaches.
On Time Delivery (OTD)
This supply chain metric means to place the rock where it needs to be at the exact time that the rock needs to be there. This metric belongs to the players that assist others. Think about alley oops or perfect passes to score. There are two players that fit in this category: Magic Johnson and John Stockton. They played more than 900 games and averaged double-digit assists. This is what on time delivery means for an NBA player.
This means exactly to work with what you have. Sometimes in companies, there are limited resources to get the job done. But good managers and good supply chain strategies can make these resources work for you. In other words “optimizing what you have on hand.” For this example, the 2004 Detroit Pistons will show us how you apply “inventory optimization”
You can remember the golden age of the Chicago Bulls or the Los Angeles Lakers. Of course, they were the best and they have championships, MVPs, records and every title you can think of, as a team and as individuals. The Celtics have 17 banners hanging from their rafters and Michael Jordan took the bulls to their sixth championship. All of these teams had what they call in the NBA “Hall of Famers”. Oh but the pistons did not have all that. When the Pistons went to the 2004 playoffs they did it with a team that were rookies and not so well-known players. On the other hand, the Lakers had 4 future Hall of Famers. The Pistons beat the Lakers to pass to the playoffs in a 4-1 series of games. “optimizing what you have on hand” was what the pistons did with their rookie roster taking the team to the finals.
Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)
As for this concept let’s say that the customers are the fans and the supply chain managers are the owners. As in every business, the owners need to give the customers good products that meet their expectations. In this case, the product, or the show, is provided by the players. So we can say that suppliers are equal to the players. The perfect example of SRM in the NBA was Mark Cuban. The Dallas Mavericks in 2000 were not a winning team and they were below the big stars. But when Cuban took the team and changed their culture they even won the NBA title in 2011. Cuban used SRM to change the whole game for the team and he did it by placing tricked out amenities in the visitor’s locker room such as gourmet buffets and flat screens. After that, players from other teams wondered how the other players were treated. Many good players made their way to the Dallas Mavericks and Cuban was a favorite with the fans for his courtside antics and motivated the fans to go to watch the matches. This means total customer satisfaction and he also took the team from a low position to being one of the best. This is in supply chain management means total success.
Honorary Supply Chain Manager
The supply chain pro is the person that does everything well but does not take credit for it. In the NBA it is the player that has been a part of multiple NBA championships but has never been in the Hall of Fame. There are two players that fit in this category and they are Robert Horry and Jim Loscutoff. They took their teams to the championships by helping, passing, rebounding and being part of the team, but never got the credit for it. This is what a good supply chain pro does: help the organization and being available to solve any problem at any hour.
Be sure to also read this post about 5 Great Ways to Increase and Maintain Customer Loyalty