This post is a book review that I did for Business World. It was published in Business World Online edition in Aug 2008 (http://www.businessworld.in/index.php/Books/More-Than-A-Pitch-Report.html).
Businesses and executives these days are in luck. They are getting (almost) free advice on applying knowledge from various streams of life to the corporate environment. Aussie cricket coach John Buchanan’s If Better Is Possible is case in point.
Buchanan offers valuable insight into the Aussie dressing room as he attempts to redefine the role a coach plays and draws analogies between the roles of national team coach and a corporate leader. Filled with many anecdotes from his tenure as a coach with Queensland Bulls and later on with Australian men’s cricket team, Buchanan has shaped his book into a handy guide not just for anyone aspiring to train a team but also for any executive aspiring to be a manager.
With 37 chapters dwelling on his life as a coach Buchanan shares his views on how strategies on the playground can be applied within the boardroom. For instance, Buchanan explains his views on how a coach or manager should regularly challenge the team and take them to where they have never been before. He reiterates the importance of communication, the need to plan, prepare a vision and strategise to ensure success. Buchanan also talks about the importance of having proper systems and processes in place not just to create a winning combination but also to keep the future in mind.
An avid sports fan is not left disappointed, especially if one is looking for some cricket controversies. Buchanan talks about his not-so-comfortable relationship with the Australian leg spinner Shane Warne although he holds the ‘Spin King’ in high esteem for re-inventing the art. Furthermore, Buchanan reminisces about the string of criticism that the team faced from former Aussie greats, the media and Cricket Australia soon after the Ashes defeat in 2005, which made him sit back and ponder about his role as coach.
Known for his unorthodox coaching style, John decided to hang on till the end of the 2007 World cup, helping Australia win their third consecutive title. John continues to serve as an ambassador for Cricket coaches in Australia and as the coach for the Kolkata Knight Riders team in the Indian Premier League. All in all ‘a nice to have book’ in your book-shelf.