NEW YORK — The words Mike Krzyzewski uses to build winning basketball teams can develop stronger business ones.
That’s the thought behind PowerForward , a digital, interactive video program that uses the Duke and former U.S. Olympic coach’s themes to create discussions that can teach leadership in the corporate world.
Krzyzewski, who last month led the Americans to their third straight gold medal and next month starts his 37th season with the Blue Devils, said teaching was something he was interested in doing toward the end of his coaching career. The concept for PowerForward began a couple of years ago and the site is launching this week.
“If I was the CEO of a company, I’d want all my people to improve, so there’s certain HR things that you do for improvement,” Krzyzewski said.
“How do you teach leadership? How do you teach that decision-making? How do you do that? So to me this is exciting in that we’re entering a world that needs something and a way for a company to teach its people or help these people learn more about leadership, which enhances the very core of a group and I love that.”
Krzyzewski relies on words such as adaptability, passion, trust and empathy when speaking to his players.
In PowerForward, customers see a video of a business, military or sports leader discussing a situation involving one of those terms, and can then enter their own individual or group decisions as to what they would do.
PowerForward CEO and co-founder Chrissie Gorman, a graduate of Duke and Harvard Business School, said case-based learning is valuable as more employees move into leadership roles with limited preparation time.
“I may never find myself particularly in that situation, but there’s a definitely a lesson to be learned and I think that’s often more memorable than trying to learn the definition of something, or take a quiz on something that has a right or wrong answer,” Gorman said.
“That’s really what Coach has done with his teams. He has I think at the core been a storyteller and knows the right story for the right situation.”
Krzyzewski is a former Army Captain and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. He said military leaders, like business ones, want to see that the people below them can make tough decisions.
“What would do? How would you handle this situation?” he said. “You want leaders to lead. Same thing in business. You want people at all levels to lead and how do you teach them leadership? And so this is not a thing that’s been done in this way.”
He credited Gorman, who developed the program along with Creative Artists Agency, for moving the project along around his limited schedule. He hopes to devote more time going forward, particularly whenever he finishes coaching at Duke.
And he’s not quite done with USA Basketball after a decade as coach. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich now has that role, while Krzyzewski plans to remain involved as a special adviser.
“I think with Pop, whatever he needs me to do, I’ll do it,” Krzyzewski said. “And we’re a team going forward and we want to continue the success that we’ve enjoyed over these last 10 years.”