I’ve learned to trust the process….
These days in Philly, the phrase “Trust the Process” has a loaded meaning. The term has become the headline for the decisions made by the Philadelphia 76ers over the last 4 years as they determined that a new path needed to be forged because the old path wasn’t working. You see, the key to winning championships in the NBA is to have multiple superstars play for your team. Other than an NFL QB, a single NBA player has the opportunity to impact the success of their team more than any individual can in any other major team sport. Mike Trout, arguably the best player in baseball, has finished top two in MVP voting each of the last 5 years but his team has only made the playoffs once, getting swept in 3 games. In the NBA, the superstars, the MVPs, are the ones making deep playoff runs and wearing multiple championship rings. For the 76ers to become the preeminent NBA franchise, they needed multiple superstars and in order to get multiple superstars, you need top draft picks. The top draft picks go to the teams with the worst records, so the 76ers path became clear, to win a lot, they had to lose a ton.
A professional sports team intentionally losing games is an unnatural thing. Owners seek revenue, which is driven by the Fans. Fans spend their money based on the team’s performance. Ticket sales, concessions revenue, merchandise sales are all driven by Fans and are traditionally tied to a team’s performance. Winning teams sell more tickets, beer and jerseys than losing teams do, this is the basic economics of sports. So intentionally losing games upsets the balance of the league and is in direct conflict with nearly all NBA stakeholders. TV networks that pay millions for broadcasting rights do not want to televise a team trying to lose. Owners of stadiums do not want to host games where a team is intentionally trying to lose. Powerful Sports Agents, do not want their athletes to play for a team that is intentionally trying to lose. However, in 2013 the 76ers hired Sam Hinkie as their General Manager and Sam Hinkie said he wanted to win and in order to give the team the best chance to win, he was going to have them lose, he was going to have them lose as many games as it took to eventually win.
So as the team traded away their best players for future draft picks and drafted injured players with the highest potential, the Fans, the Media, the other NBA owners, league advertisers and TV executives began to condemn the team and their actions. However, a small subset of Fans aligned with Hinkie’s thought process. Slowly a few players and a few media members did as well. It was soon after that the phrase “Trust the Process” became the rallying cry for those that wanted to win at any cost, for those that wanted to change the way teams built, those that “had the longest view in the room” as Sam put it.
The more the team lost, the more supporters of the process would defend the team’s actions. The 76ers got good at losing, very good. They lost over 80% of their games from the start of the 2013–14 season through the end of the 2015–16 season. They tied the record for most consecutive losses at 26 straight, and then broke it two years later by losing 28 games in a row. The players weren’t throwing the game, a term often used to mean that the players lost on purpose via their actions on the court. Instead the GM managed the team to this type of historic losing, by starting players that wouldn’t make any other team’s roster and trading away any decent player for more draft picks. The players were trying, the coach (now beloved in Philadelphia) was trying to win, but everyone knew this was just part of the process.
Where we sit now in 2017, the 76ers future is still in doubt. Sam Hinkie was forced out as GM last year due to pressure from the NBA stakeholders who could no longer accept his methods. Sam wrote this masterpiece on his way out the door, worth a read for everyone regardless of your thoughts on basketball. While the Sixers have not made the playoffs since this process started, they have obtained a high number of young talented players and an even higher number of assets in future drafts. So while the process is not complete, I have come to fully trust it, because it was the road less traveled. The process the 76ers took was different, it was the way Sam Hinkie looked at a defined set of rules and policy and found a way to still disrupt the system.
So how does any of this relate to this blog? It’s all fairly simple. At Inspire, we’re building something that hasn’t been built. A company, a suite of products and a culture that ceased to exist before we came along. It has been a unique journey to go from where we started to where we are today, and will be an even greater voyage to reach the lofty goals we have for ourselves. We aim to change the way people think of and use energy. We strive to implement seamless technology that disrupts the utility model from days past. To break down these walls, to usher in a brighter energy future, is an ongoing process for us here at Inspire, but it is a process that I trust.
We’re always looking for new Avengers to join us, to trust our process and to make a difference. Check us out!