Can a group of teenagers change the world? adidas Basketball thinks so. That’s why we challenged ten high school basketball programs from the Los Angeles area to tackle some of the biggest issues confronting their communities. As a member of Progressive Soles, adidas’ African-American employee resource group, I had the honor of facilitating a workshop with kids from these programs. On the agenda? A search for solutions to poverty, homelessness, drugs, gang violence and more.

In my day job, I’m a member of the Business Transformation team, which encourages employees to use creative thinking to transform the way we do business. We inspire the stakeholders to break out of their silos and to collaborate with other teams so they arrive at holistic results.

Both adidas Basketball and Business Transformation believe that empowering people to solve their own problems results in the most impactful solutions, so I knew that, in order to understand the problems that LA communities face, the affected community members needed to be a part of the process.

A group of people stand still in curiosity while taking part in a workshop in a warehouse type building. collaboration, collaborate, teamwork, learning
You can’t transform a business without your key stakeholders in the room and the same goes for any community initiative.
A little boy leans on a table as he draws on a piece of paper with a pen. creative, imagination, creativity, drawing
By writing down what we wanted to achieve during the day it kept people focused on the task in hand.
A mentor speaks with his team of kids in laughter. team, laughter, inspiration, role model
As the day goes by we spent more time learning and growing from one another. We knew that we wanted to achieve real results and make a big difference together.
A group of teenagers wait in line holding their hands up to ask a question. curiosity, questions, learning, patience
In a room full of inspirational minds, many new and amazing ideas were bound to come to life.
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So how could I transfer the skills from my day job to help sports teams and community groups?

Well, much like in Business Transformation, I did my best to ask the kids insightful and challenging questions about the problems they face, the effect it has on their lives, and what they thought could be done to solve it.

Three young boys stand beside a whiteboard presenting their ideas. teamwork, confidence, teaching, learning
The audience and setting were different than my usual presenting experience but the goals were the same: empowering the people in the room to solve their own problems.
A group of girls draw and write down their ideas on paper as part of a workshop activity. collaboration, creativity, design, inspiration
A huge variety of ideas emerged from these hands-on workshops along with a major commitment from all involved to carry them through.
A group of youth and mentors pose for a group photo in front of a wall with a mural on it. team, teamwork, celebration, pride
I am very grateful to adidas Basketball, Progressive Soles, and the student-athletes from the ten Legacy high schools for the opportunity to see the power of sport in action.
Two girls compare ideas and find inspiration from one another. collaboration, teamwork, inspiration, ideas, brainstorm
Introducing design thinking elements to the day really engaged the communities in the room.
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The results were carefully thought-out solutions that addressed each community’s unique challenge.

Ten schools will join the Los Angeles Basketball Legacy partnership and will count on continued support from adidas in transforming their communities. More importantly, over 300 of L.A.’s youth will be empowered to be change makers in their own communities.

Have you been able to use your work skills in a community sports project? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below.


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by Tyrone 18.05.2018
My corporate experience led me to use management principles to solve a problem with motivation. We used a fishbone diagram to brainstorm and come up with some answers to why some athletes "Lack the motivation to achieve true greatness as a student-athlete." One of several viable solutions from the experience was a custom written personal contract designed to make the player face the truth about his character. We placed daily, weekly, and monthly goals with rewards and penalties such as picking up additional chores, and unwanted activities like performing volunteer work during times usually spent socializing on the weekend. Communication with parents, coaches, teachers, and other stakeholders encouraged setting reasonable goals and understanding the expectations of their accountability peers. The end result was better student-athletes motivated to achieve clear goals and accept the consequences and use of self penalties for better results. We discovered the basic process of becoming an elite student-athlete requires planning, implementation, and execution.
Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor Tyrone 11.06.2018
Hi Tyrone,

thanks for sharing your experience with us. Very interesting approach. How did you make sure that self penalties don't harm your student's motivation along the way? I'd love to learn more about your motivation approach.