Patriots Review: Management Secrets

<p>The Patriots are poised to return to the NFL in 2005 as a playoff contender once again. Having lost a few pieces of their organization, the team continues to move forward.</p><p>The Patriots organization is run like no other in professional sports and has an amazing ability to overcome adversity. If you ever wondered how they were able to do it, James Lavin covers the organization in his book Management Secrets of the New England Patriots. Here is PI's review.</p>

Patriots Book Review
Review By Ken Castro,
Patriots Insider

From Patsies to Two-Time Super Bowl Champs, Vol. 1

By James Lavin
Pointer Press 350pp

Intriguing and exhaustingly researched, Management Secrets of the New England Patriots succeeds at going beyond the headlines into the inner workings of the Kraft/Belichick aura.

Lavin, who earned his Ph.D. in Economics at Stanford, and holds degrees in Political Science from Harvard and Economics from the London School of Economics has offered a roadmap of an overwhelming business success story.

Lavin's treatise is a primer for corporations who recognize that ingredients of the Patriots gridiron greatness can be seamlessly imported into the boardroom.

"The Patriots rise from worst to first is compelling and inspiring, but hardly unprecedented," writes Lavin. "Because variants of the Patriots' formula have proven successful in many team sports (and non sport organizations, like Southwest Airlines), the transformation of the 'Patsies' into a championship organization admired not only throughout the NFL but even by legendary GE CEO Jack Welch contains insights useful to anyone seeking to improve the performance of any team, company, or organization."

The first of two books (Volume 2 is scheduled for a summer release), Lavin conducted copious interviews and labored through innumerable transcripts in forming the core of his work.

But Secrets offers much more than a look at the Patriots business acumen. Liberally infused with recollections from players, staff and opponents, Secrets will score in resounding fashion with fans of the three-time Champions (Secrets was released before the Pats' third Super Bowl win in February, but includes significant portions of the 2004 campaign).

In that vein, a number of chapters stand out. "In Good Players-Great Team", Lavin illustrates how the Patriots are able to maximize their collective potential, sans an overly hyped 'super-star' roster. Lavin is solid in noting that Super Bowl winners since 1970 averaged 7.06 Pro Bowl bound players per season. Belichick's first two championship clubs placed only two players each year in the Hawaii affair. "It's not about talent, it's about how the team plays. That's the litmus test. Let's see how we play. Let's see how we coach. What the team looks like on paper doesn't mean a thing," Belichick says.

In "Acquiring Talent", Lavin shines. Sub chapters include; Hire hungry guys, Hire goal oriented guys, Hire pleasant guys, Find passionate employees by de-emphasizing money, Gamble on greatness and top organizations attract top people.

The acquisition of Corey Dillon, the jettisoning of both quarterback Drew Bledsoe and Lawyer Milloy are accounted for with crisp detail.

Lavin caps his fine work with a chapter on the development of Belichick as a coach. From his early days at Annapolis High School, Phillips Andover and Wesleyan College to his tenure as an NFL assistant, Belichick's rise to exalted status is precisely documented.

"Many kids fill their days with fun and frivolity," writes Lavin. "Many graduate from college with little career direction. Some people never find their passion. Not Bill Belichick. Born into a football family, (Belichick's father, Steve coached at Navy for a third of a century, starting in 1956)'Billy' was assisting players and coaches at Navy while still in grade school. In junior high, Billy was practically a member of the Navy coaching staff."

Secrets, likely will spearhead the coming wave of post Super Bowl works on the Patriots. But Lavin's book is the perfect antidote for the Patriots fan that wishes to forego the daily cacophony of the sports talk genre, and clutch an old-fashioned read.


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Ken Castro is a freelance sports journalist covering Greater Boston and Rhode Island area sports teams for the AP, local papers and magazines. He continues to assist the Patriots Insider with coverage of the New England Patriots football team. You can read more of his articles on by searching for "Ken Castro". Ken can be reached via e-mail here: subject "Other"

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