Things a Business Can Learn From March Madness

March Madness betting odds have taken over office discussions all throughout the country. But, aside from reinvigorating collegiate spirit, may basketball teach us any significant business lessons?


Whether your bracket will be shattered, you’re vying for first place in the office pool, or you couldn’t give a damn about the entire thing, there are three key lessons your company can learn from basketball.

Make Others Feel as if They are Falling Behind

You might think that having a competitive advantage is a good thing. Early-leading sports teams win more than two-thirds of their games. The more ahead a team is, the more probable it is to win.


When looking at almost 18,000 NBA games, we discovered something unexpected. In certain instances, it’s preferable to lose. Those who were behind by one point at halftime, for example, were more likely to win than teams that were up by one point. It is possible to win after losing.


Why could this be? Being in the dark is energizing. When teams and individuals are losing by a little margin, they work harder. When his team is behind late in the game, LeBron James, for example, performs 8% better.


Use motivation psychology the next time you want to encourage your coworkers or push yourself to work out harder at the gym. Don’t comment on where people stand in relation to one other. Poor performers are discouraged by aggregate comments, whereas good performers feel like they can coast. Instead, reduce the size of the reference group.


People are often compared to someone who is somewhat ahead of them, regardless of how well or poorly they are performing. Structure feedback such that folks feel like they’re almost there but not quite. Feeling a little behind should boost motivation and, as a result, performance.

Rivalries Can be Beneficial and Harmful

Rivalries are an important aspect of every sporting setting. Duke vs. UNC. The matchup is Kentucky vs. Louisville. The Big Game between Stanford and California football. Office rivalries, on the other hand, are common. Tim from Business Development vs. Jim from Sales. Your firm vs. those other jerks who claim to have a superior product.


Well, are they beneficial or harmful? Both are correct. Rivalries motivate people to do better. More people attend sporting events, basketball teams defend better, and runners run five seconds quicker per kilometer. However, the same motive might have negative consequences.


At work, it’s the same way. Rivalry motivates individuals to work harder, but it also motivates them to lie, cheat, and act unethically. So be mindful of fueling the embers of rivalry. You can stoke the fire, but it may soon be beyond your control.

Success Should be Avoided

Every business and team strives for success. Success, on the other hand, changes everything. You used to be a little startup, but now you’re a mid-sized company. You used to be in the third position, but now you’re the industry leader. What effect does success have on behavior?


Regrettably, not all of the news is positive. In basketball, teams can take 2-point or 3-point shots, which are more difficult to hit but worth more points. Leading teams, on the other hand, become risk-averse as the game progresses. They tense up and begin taking less-than-ideal shots. They quit shooting threes, despite the fact that doing so would improve their situation.


A common pattern emerges when businesses expand and become industry leaders. Managers begin to play things safe rather than take risks. Rather than upsetting the boat, everyone keeps doing what they’re doing. Until an upstart comes along and snatches your meal.


What is the moral of the story? Success is great, but don’t let it suffocate the pioneering spirit that brought you there. Don’t allow yourself to get complacent. Continue to take risks and attempt new things. Great businesses are continuously looking for new ways to improve. Sure, the new product will eat into some of the old one’s sales, but if you don’t launch it, your competition will.


Although March Madness has crushed corporate productivity, not everything is lost. Basketball can teach us a lot about human behavior in between nail-biting triumphs and crushing losses. So, the next time your supervisor complains about you leaving work early to watch a game, remind her you’re doing more than that. You’re carrying out some study.


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