If you were fortunate enough to see the end of the NBA playoff game Wednesday between Miami and Indiana, you saw one of the greatest plays of all time. It is also one that exemplifies how you can help your company achieve greatness. You may have seen the highlight (Below is a link to the play), but with about two seconds left in overtime, the Miami Heat were down by one point. LeBron James got the ball, blew past the defender and scored a game-winning layup with no time left to give the Heat the win and a 1-0 lead in the series.
What you probably did not realize is that although LeBron made a great play, it would never have happened without Shane Battier, the Miami Heat player who in-bounded the ball. Battier recognized the defense and put the ball in the perfect space for LeBron to get it mid-stride and be able to make the play now shown millions of times throughout the world. Without Battier, the Heat would be down 1-0 in the series with home court advantage belonging to Indiana and people questioning the Heat’s ability to repeat as NBA Champions.
It is not a coincidence that Battier was responsible for such an important play and that the in-bound pass was not made by another player. Battier was part of two NCAA National Championships at Duke, part of the Miami Heat team that won the NBA championship last year (after falling short without him the year before) and part of two of the three longest winning streaks in NBA history. If it happens once, or twice, maybe it’s luck. When confronted with these numbers (and all of you know how I love numbers), however, it is hard to argue that Battier is not a key factor in all this success (I actually did try to argue about a month ago that he was the most valuable player on the Heat but I do now feel I need to back away from that somewhat; that LeBron guy can also play a little). An analysis of Battier’s stats also points to the contribution he makes outside the flashy dunks or drives.
The point of this post is not to convince you to join the Shane Battier fan club, but to show that you can make as much or more of an impact in making your company better by making the right pass or playing tough defense rather than having to drive to the basket and get on Sportscenter.
If you make everyone at your company better, you are much more likely to win the big prize (IPO, exit to a great company or just high profitability). This can be assisting the rock star at the company be more effective or helping those more junior hit a key basket. It does not preclude you from occasionally scoring (Battier still will shoot a three-point basket when it makes sense) but you make your company more successful when you also contribute to making everyone succeed.
It is hard to quantify the contributions that will turn your company into a world champion. You can help your boss, co-workers, subordinates, etc., move your company closer to winning. Below is not a comprehensive list but should spark ideas on how you can do the smaller things that lead to great success:
- Recruit someone you know is talented
- Make a slide or even a full Powerpoint or Keynote presentation for your sales team to use with advertisers
- Add some nice graphics to a presentation that already exists
- Recommend a new feature for a game
- Prepare some text to describe your game in the app store
- Program push notifications while the team is looking to use a third-party solution
- Lead a focus test rather than asking someone to do it
- Send out some tweets or Facebook updates for the company when there is a relevant event
- Make a checklist of events that your analytics package should be tracking
If your goal is to build or be part of successful companies, and not just to get your picture on TechCrunch, follow the example of Shane Battier and help your company—and peers—with the small things.