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Monday, May 14, 2018

Basketball and Business: Where Culture Failed

"This is not a dress rehearsal. This is your life." - DaVita CEO Kent Thiry

Culture fails, sometimes spectacularly. Jonestown. The Boston Red Sox for 86 years. Enron. The Atlanta Falcons. Sam Walker explores how an individual positively impacts culture in The Captain Class. But what about cultures that failed and why? Finding leprechauns proves easier than well-documented sports team culture failures. Bad culture reeks of conflict, Sinatran "My Way" thinking. 

Leaders don't determine how great they are; followers judge the leaders. "How does it feel to be coached by me?" We are the leadership we model. Thiry adds, "spiritual practice is how you behave every little minute of every day and what kind of impact you’re having on the other human beings."

People come first. In Jim Collins' Good to Great, he emphasizes getting "the right people in the right seats on the bus." David Cottrell echoes this in Monday Morning Leadership, the need to 'hire tough'. Establishing positive culture with misfit toys creates overwhelming challenges. But "task-oriented" coaches can wear out players with unreasonable demands. Greg Schiano developed a 'hard guy' reputation in Tampa. "How bad is it there? It's worse than you can imagine," says one NFL player who spent 2012 with the Bucs. "It's like being in Cuba."

Clarity counts. Cottrell prioritizes clarity, "the Main Thing is the Main Thing". Unless everyone comprehends and works toward the central goal, success becomes impossible. For some players and coaches, personal agendas supersede team goals. Carmelo Anthony didn't fit as well as desired in OKC, and refused a reserve role

AAU basketball has taken on much water. Play a lot, pay a lot, practice not so much. I listen to basketball experts on this one (Kerr, Kobe); I have no dog in that fight. Others fret about the 'entitlement culture' of elite AAU players. You be the judge. 

Dishonesty lay at the core of a spectacular blowup, Enron. Accounting fraud, a lack of transparency, and failed leadership bankrupted the energy trading company, at that time the largest bankruptcy in US history. Convictions on conspiracy and bank fraud contradicted CEO Ken Lay's religious background. 

Distrust coupled with accounting and inventory manipulation with a backdrop of job slashing marked "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap's tenure at Sunbeam. "While the Dunlap and executive team were manipulating the financial reports, they were also making continuous stream of misleading statement to financial analysts, SEC, and stockholders."

Widespread unfairness is perceived throughout women's college basketball. "In the NCAA’s 2010 GOALS Report...survey of almost 20,000 college athletes reported that only 39% of women’s basketball players “strongly agreed” that “my head coach can be trusted.” Some dissatisfaction relates to unfulfilled expectations. "There already seems to be a huge gap between what many women expect when they go off to play college basketball, and what they find." 

Complacency can undermine success. Jon Gordon and Mike Smith wrote You Win in the Locker Room First. After early success, Smith described how complacency overtook commitment during his final seasons. Smith noted, “Complacency is a disease.” It's not only players. Leadership can lack commitment perceiving the status quo as 'good enough'. "Standards of Performance" predicated Bill Walsh's championship program with the 49ers. The Standards flowed from Coach Walsh to administrative personnel all the way to groundskeepers. Complacency withers under the stress of standards. 

Robin Sharma includes the following as commonalities in low-performing teams:

1. Freeloaders
2. Vague Goals 
3. No Transparency
4. No Accountability
5. Feedback Fear 

Disengagement, lack of meaning, business opacity, accepting mediocrity, and lack of feedback accompany failing teams. 

Competence questions follow struggling teams. Coaches own a myriad of tasks - selecting, motivating, and developing players, and organizing and integrating their system with various levels of talent. An unmistakable sign of poor culture includes high dropout levels of players. "Never be a child's last coach."

Coaching toolbox discusses additional findings including: 

1. Gossip
2. Pouting
3. Poor body language
4. Negative reaction to adversity
5. Martyr complex

All of these show maladaptive behavior, immaturity, and unwillingness to face challenges with emotional resilience. Kevin Eastman says, "you fight for your culture every day." Coaches beginning without compelling philosophy and strong cultures become former coaches. 


NBA teams increasingly switch the pick-and-roll. The Celtics have length at their wings to do that. 

They make the switch, a long X-out in unusual fashion. 

1 comment:

  1. They make the switch, a long X-out in unusual this is something and I posted something about it the other day where we did this back when I was in HS. Once I started coaching the first coaching video I saw of closest man closes out first and the other guy rotates to his man was this old Rick Pitino video where he talked about doubling the post and rotating out.