What I Learned Taking German Colleagues to a Basketball Game
Sport can bridge the differences in working with different cultures
Most Meaningful Experience: Everyone loves Stephen Curry
The Warriors are in the middle of an amazing run, and I was lucky enough to host some of my German colleagues at against the Memphis Grizzlies last week. They loved the game and it gave us an opportunity to discuss how Germans think about sports, and how it related to our recent experiences working together.
- Offense is synchronicity. The flow of the offense is critical to success. My colleagues focused on how the Warriors positioned each player and how each player moved to create open shots. Similarly in business, having clearly defined responsibilities and working in sync towards a common goal is also critical for them.
- Defense is strategy. From our seats, my colleagues studied the on-court tactics, strategized how to stop Memphis, and cheered the Warriors’ aggressive defense. In our short time working together, I have seen their ability to scrutinize the business details, create plans to achieve tactical wins, and to relentlessly defend certain parts of the business against competitors.
- Coaching is key. One of my colleagues was curious how Steve Kerr’s time at the Chicago Bulls shaped his coaching. This was an insightful question — in Chicago, Kerr played for Phil Jackson, arguably the best coach in the history of the NBA. In business, my German colleagues look for clear decisions and strong leadership from their ‘coaches’.
- An acute understanding is innate to their thinking. They asked a lot of questions and were intellectually curious about my thoughts on the game. In business meetings, they also want to thoroughly understand everyone’s position before voicing their own opinions.
- The game is a bonding experience. They regarded our time together as a unique and special experience. Working together is also sometimes playing together.
- Victories are celebrated. They relished that the Warriors won and could not believe that home team fans would leave the game early! When the Warriors were leading by 20 points and fans were all leaving, we stayed to watch the confetti and fireworks. Germans like to celebrate success together — even the small ones.
- Stephen Curry amazes all. Even those who did not know basketball well were in awe of Stephen Curry’s shooting and dribbling. He was dubbed the ‘Messi’ of Basketball due to his sleek dribbling, unanticipated moves, and uncanny ability to finish.