Creating a Culture.
Urban defines culture as "what we believe, how we behave, and the experience that our behavior produces for each other. And people experience culture through behavior".
Every team and organization has a culture. You may not have deliberately created a culture, but you still have one.
A strong culture is characterized by a group of players & coaches that consistently act Above the Line. They focus their attitude and effort in the same direction. They believe in the mission. Their goals are clear. Communication is open. The culture is intentional.
I love the simple and powerful illustration used in the book, courtesy of Focus3 (check out their site here), the leadership consulting company that works with OSU. It's a large arrow with a bunch of smaller arrows inside of it. A winning culture has all of the little arrows (people) pointing in the same direction as the big arrow (the mission).
This simple picture (above) can illustrate what your culture should look like. Now think about your team. Is everyone committed to the mission and acting Above the Line each day?
The picture below is the illustration of a team with a poor culture. The players and coaches are not aligned. Teamwork is "me work". There is a lot of BCD (blaming, complaining and defending). This is the result of a culture that just happened by default. There was no intention to build a strong culture.
This is a great representation of culture. If you had your players (or employees) describe your culture, would it look like the 1st or 2nd picture?
Try the simple exercise below to get a quick snapshot of your culture.
Step 1: Have all the players take out a piece of paper and draw a big arrow (like the one above). But make the big arrow pointing up (north).
Step 2: The players will draw small arrows inside of the big arrow to represent each player on the team. But have them think about each team member, then draw each small arrow in the appropriate direction. Does a teammate's attitude and effort push the team in the same direction as the big arrow (then this arrow should point up)? Or do they bring the team down (arrow should point down)? Or do they not really hurt or help the team (sideways arrow)?
Step 3: Collect all the sheets of paper (anonymously). Then hang them on the wall so they are visible to everyone. This will give everyone a very quick and simple illustration about how the players perceive the team's culture.
Step 4: Have a discussion with the team about why the culture is the way it is...regardless if it is good or bad. How could it be better? What behaviors would create an elite culture?
Step 5: Group the players into small groups (about 3 people) and have each group come up with at least one strategy to get all the arrows pointing in the same direction. Identify the beliefs and behaviors needed to have all the arrows pointing in the same direction.
The power of this exercise comes from a foundational principle in organizational development: people support what they help create.
If the coach (or boss) wants to improve the culture of a team and expects to tell the team what to do and how to fix it...good luck!
But if the players are the ones to identify that the culture is not where they want it to be (illustrated by the exercise), and they help create the solutions...now you can create some positive change!
Big Idea #2: The Performamce Pathway
The Performamce Pathway provides a clear roadmap of exactly what a leader must focus on to produce exceptional results. The Performance Pathway states...Leaders create culture. Culture drives behavior. Behavior produces results.
Similar to the R Factor equation (from post 2), the Performance Pathway is a simple and clear concept. The foundation of the culture is the core beliefs of the team. Please don't mistake the meaning of core beliefs. For example, reading an inspiring quote on the wall does not make something a core belief. A core belief is ingrained in your heart and will drive everything you do.
To help the OSU team develop core beliefs, Urban knew he and his staff had to be crystal clear when communicating their beliefs. To do so, they created a culture blueprint with 3 simple columns:
They chose 3 core beliefs that became the foundation of their culture...
Urban says that building a culture is a 3 part process: Believe it. Sell it. Demand it.
Nuggets from Creating a Culture Chapter:
Which nugget resonates most with you? Which nugget would create the greatest change on your team if everyone was committed to it?