A bunch of 7 to 9 yr old kids learning to play cricket equated to a team of senior project managers working in a bank? Musically speaking its like comparing Hank Williams, the great honky-tonk artist to the inimitable Jimmi Hendrix, arguably the greatest rocker of all – What can the two groups possibly have in common? Nothing much to the untrained eye, but perhaps a lot if you look from where i am standing. The reason i can say that with authority is that in a typical week i get through both these groups, the latter at work and the former in my role as the coach of the Under 9 cricket team at the Zurich Crickets.
So where do we start with the similarities, huh … ?
1. Getting them together in a place is next to impossible : Put 12 kids in an indoor gym at the beginning of coaching session on a Saturday morning, and you can’t even hear yourself think. You need to coax, beg, order, trick, sometimes all of these things at once – and you just might grab their attention. The team of project managers at the other hand have a slightly different set of issues – global conference calls, budget issues, tracking a 500 line item project plan etc. continue to have a have a higher priority. Discovering Atlantis is easier than having them sit down together whether for a coach-talk or a team meeting.
2. ‘Question everything’ is their shared motto : Either all project managers were under 9 cricketers once, or all the under 9s have a secret ambition to be a project manager. For every thing that you throw at them comes back to you at double speed disguised as an unanswerable question. Try answering this from a 7 yr old when explaining the best way to hit a straight drive “Why can I not use 3 bats together when I am batting?” or this a from a project manager when explaining the competition’s product offering “Why don’t we just buy them off, then we have nothing to worry about?“. Even Obama would not have an intelligent reply.
3. They are as multicultural as it gets : Both the teams consist of members from practically round the globe – South Africans, Germans, Italians, English, Australians, Swiss, Indians, Serbians, Israelis… you name it. I think only the Vatican is not represented.
4. Both continue to surprise & exasperate you : Surprises come in all shapes and sizes. Like the boy who just for the life of me cannot get the ball to pitch in line with the stumps, will suddenly come up and bowl a perfect in-swinging yorker leaving everyone flabbergasted. Or the perhaps the project manager who will have a ‘Eureka’ moment and manage to convince the stakeholder who has been resisting for ages, with a perfect argument that no one saw coming. In both cases you are left scratching your head in a mixture of admiration(wow! i didn’t know he/she could do that) and exasperation (Why couldn’t he/she have done this earlier).
5. You continue to learn so much from them : Just the very fact that each of them is a personality in their own right complete with all the aspects that make us human, keeps you on your toes. The challenges they throw at you, the new perspectives they bring to age-old issues, their diligence to continue practicing their bowling at any spare time at home or working relentlessly to meet a deadline that is approaching like a steamroller – is enlightening. Every day/week offer you a little nugget of knowledge or experience that leaves you so much the richer.
Would one want to change a few things here and there, probably yes. But will the two groups remain the ‘originals’ if you did, probably not. So here’s to both the groups keeping their spirit and personalities.