Friday, November 9, 2012

The problem with regime change (Mike Brown and the Lakers)

I'm going to pull an Ann Landers.

Over a year ago, I wrote a post that discussed calls for regime change at Microsoft and at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since that post, new ownership has taken over at the Dodgers, while Steve Ballmer is still in control at Microsoft.

This morning, multiple news sources reported that Mike Brown had been fired as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Lakers have confirmed this via a press release. Some people are dancing in their virtual seats, and some people are dreaming that Phil Jackson will come back and everything will be hunky dory.

Will it?

Before I launch into my Ann Landers routine, I should start by saying that the news surprised me. For the Lakers to make such a change so early in the season, with a key player injured and another recovering from an injury, suggests that the internal brain trust determined that things were not going to get better under Brown. Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak are not ones to panic.

That having been said, let me share some thoughts which may seem strangely familiar to regular readers of this blog.

In the political world, I am not a fan of regime change for regime change's sake. And I am not a fan of regime change in the business world either.

While such appeals seem attractive on the surface, business regime change proposals, like political regime change proposals, often don't consider what would happen afterwards.

All you have to do is ask a basic question - who will replace Mike Brown?

Once you start filling in that blank, and a real person emerges as a competitor to the current leader, then the idea of throwing the bum out often looks less attractive.

Take the Lakers, for example. I seriously doubt that the Lakers will lure Big Chief Triangle (Phil Jackson) back for a third term with the Lakers, especially with an aging group of starters. And it would be surprising - not shocking, but surprising - to see the Lakers hire one of Big Chief Triangle's warrior braves. Brian Shaw is with the Indiana Pacers, but the Lakers have already rejected him once. Kurt Rambis is working for ESPN, but may be damaged goods after his term with Minnesota.

Marc Stein has listed four other promising candidates: Mike D'Antoni, Nate McMillan, Jerry Sloan, and Stan Van Gundy. But can any of these potential head coaches deal with the El-Lay egos?

So before you jump on a regime change bandwagon, ask yourself - can you propose a likely, viable successor?
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