Daryl Morey has a plan to turn around the Philadelphia 76ers, and it involves meetings longer than an average workday.
The Sixers officially announced today they’d hired the former Rockets executive as the team’s new President of Basketball Operations. At a virtual press conference, Morey was asked what he thought went wrong with the Sixers this season, and what the most urgent problems with the team were.
Morey noted that the Sixers, a six seed that was swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, were missing the injured Ben Simmons. He also did an A-plus job of sidestepping the question: “I would say I’m excited to answer that question, but it might be later.” And then he did peel back the curtain a bit, and let us know what he had planned for this week with Sixers GM Elton Brand:
Elton and I have all-day, 10-plus hour meetings scheduled for the next few days to understand better what we need to do, and for me to come in and act like I know exactly what the Sixers need to do on day one would not be very smart decision-making.
Morey and Brand were both at Sixers HQ in Camden, New Jersey for the presser. So for the next few days, they will be locking themselves in an office looking out over the Delaware, chatting about how they can get Ben Simmons to shoot three-pointers, emerging only to pick up cheesesteaks at Donkey’s Place for lunch. Or maybe they’ll have to do all of this remotely, reminding each other periodically to mute the microphone while eating.
Of course, Morey was speaking off the cuff, and he probably didn’t mean for us to infer he was actually going to hold marathon-long meetings with Brand while they try to figure out how to move Al Horford’s contract. But there’s a sense meetings are a drag on business. Don’t take my word for it: A 2007 article in MIT Sloan Management Review said executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings, with a massive increase since the 1960s (and no end to that increase in sight, though COVID-19 has shortened meetings a bit). Do you need another magazine about capitalism published in Cambridge, Massachusetts to convince you? A 2017 article in Harvard Business Review decried: “Stop the meeting madness!”
We surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.
The Sixers have hired a talented executive in Daryl Morey. Fans ought to be excited the team has a general manager who has had success in the NBA before. But, please, I am in pain from just hearing about several days in a row of 10-plus hour meetings. Maybe just break things up with some friendly games of H-O-R-S-E every hour or so?