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Building Dream Teams

Posted @ 8:27 am by Tim Ross | Category: Digital Marketing, Web Development Process | 0 Comments

As I watched the amazing opening ceremony to the Beijing games, I could not help but feel this was, in effect, China’s “brand launch” to the world. Visually stunning, rich in storyline and content, almost unthinkable choreography… perhaps the perfect ceremony. It was almost like the bizarro-Superman equivalent of the 1984 Olympic closing when the US trotted out breakdancers and Lionel Ritchie. Party, fiesta, forever… more like forever an embarrassment to the US brand.

I am excited for the Olympic basketball events. I am confident the US Women will once again triumph. I’m hopeful the Men’s team has finally woken up to the urgent need to rebuild the team in a more international image. As I thought about the team selection process, I started seeing parallels between a well-constructed web project team and a well-constructed basketball team.

The ideal point guard is someone who can execute the playbook and get all players involved and contributing. Project managers play a similar role defining tasks and promoting collaboration. Without a strong PG/PM, you are dead in the water.

The shooting guard gets all the glory. Slam dunks from the free throw line, three-point bombs, and spectacular drives to the hoop. These players are the ones most likely to appear on SportsCenter highlights. Similarly, all of the creative lead’s hard work is seen, appreciated, and most likely to garner awards.

The small forward is an inglorious position. They consistently draw the toughest defensive assignment and never quite get the credit deserved for doing the little things… chasing down loose balls, moving the ball, chasing perimeter players, etc. While the creative lead gets the credit for the visual concept, you never see a Webby going to the person who sweated to make that design come alive and work across obscure browser/OS combinations. The small forward only gets noticed when they make a defensive mistake… the front-end developer only gets noticed when a link shows up broken in IE 3.2 running on a Commodore 64.

The power forward historically has been the hardest worker on the floor. Probably the most physically demanding position, the power forward is responsible for setting hard picks, grabbing rebounds, and fighting for inside position with the biggest players on the floor. The back-end developer spends an absurd amount of time behind their monitor, solving complex technical challenges, hunting down bugs, and wrestling with unruly APIs.

The center is the first person you see, standing in the middle for the opening tip. The center does a bit of everything… scoring, rebounds, blocked shots. Similarly, the technical lead is there from the first meetings defining the solution, helping choose platforms and architectures, and even pinch-hitting on complicated technical issues. In the case of Jive team, Adam Trissel is our very own lumberjack version of Shaq.

The 6th man is responsible to partially fulfilling the role of a range of different people. Sometimes a PG, sometimes an SG, sometimes a SF. The User Experience has a specific role (designing the UI), but realistically fills a ton of gaps in terms of requirements definition, page design, expression of back-end features in the UI, etc.

The crunch time specialist typically comes in at the end of the game, often with the specific role of shooting free throws down the stretch. While this player logs less minutes, their role is crucial and games often swing on their performance. The QA lead comes in at the end of the project and are responsible for bringing the project live with flawless performance. If the QA lead does not deliver, the project loses.

Okay, I’m sure this is a bit off topic but since this is a blog about branding and technology, I’m going to take some liberties to rant at NBA commissioner David Stern. The NBA championship has faced a dwindling audience for the past several years despite some of the most exciting matchups in league history. I’d argue they have a serious branding problem.

MLB has the “World Series”. The NHL has the “Stanley Cup”. The NFL has the “SuperBowl” (and college football has a whole series of events like the Peach Bowl.) Heck, even college basketball has “March Madness” and the “Final Four.”

Where is the NBA’s branding? The “NBA Championship?” To paraphrase the film Usual Suspects, “Really, did you put that together yourself, Einstein? Got a team of monkeys working around the clock on this? ” Maybe the commish can take a lesson from the other leagues (and really any book on branding), and work on something a little more catchy and inspirational. If he needs help, I know a firm who can help.

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