NBA 3 point revolution and Change Management …

Before you can make sense of this article, you need to read the inspiration for this article –


The WSJ explores the reasons behind the recent emergence of move to a 3 point attempts and the reasons why the phenomenon did not happen earlier. That is where my change management angle comes into it.

 “It took decades for the NBA to realize it should be taking more of the shots that are literally worth one more point. But once NBA teams began to embrace 3-pointers, the game changed forever. They slowly migrated away from the basket and behind the 3-point line as the percentage of field-goal attempts that were 3-pointers increased almost every season. And then they stopped taking more 3-pointers.”

In almost all change situations, it usually takes time for the stakeholders to feel the need for change. Even after the need is felt, things have a tendency to go back to status quo.

“The idea that 3 points is 1.5 more times than 2 sounds simple, but it took a lot of time,” said Golden State president of basketball operations Bob Myers. “Change is not always rapid. It’s sometimes slow.”

Most of the times, on the face of it the rational for change is simple and straightforward. Most of the times, it is not that simple and straightforward to the change recipients.

“Back then,” said Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, who also played for those Magic teams, “it felt like we were taking more threes than we are now because it was abnormal.”

When you are going through the change, it feels strange and unnatural. It feels like more efforts because the change is alien to your environment

“There are analytical reasons to do it, but then I’m not sure many thought it was possible or prudent,” Myers said. NBA teams also had to fight biases that persisted in a league that frequently dismissed 3-pointers with a four-letter word: soft”

There have to logical reasons for going through the change but change recipients have to believe that the change is feasible. You don’t just need early adopters, you need successful early adopters. In absence of that, you will neither be able to get rid of the bias and nor get the behaviour change. 


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