SUPER BOWL SERIES | PART ONE | FUN IS A BY-PRODUCT NOT A GOAL
After his team’s 43-8 trouncing in the recent Super Bowl by the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Bronco head coach John Fox commented, “We ran into a buzz saw.”
Conversely Seattle Seahawk’s head coach Pete Carroll’s view was, “We just played the way we always play.” How can there be such a disparity of world views of the same game by two world-class coaches, coaching two world-class teams? The difference is team culture. Carroll views the game as “just playing the way we always play,” while Fox is feeling the sting of the buzz saw.
If you followed last week’s blog on the Culture of Seattle’s 12th Man , you’re starting to recognize the difference that culture can make in a city, a team or in your own organization. Culture is the roots from which poor performance, mediocrity or greatness spring forth and grow into a mighty tree.
Having our headquarters in Seattle, we’ve had the opportunity to observe Seahawk Owner, Paul Allen, General Manager John Schneider and Head Coach Pete Carroll for a few years. Being culture guys, we’re always watching both the roots and mighty trees that are beginning to spring up from any high performance organization that we can study. Studying the Seahawks is true joy because we get to root for our home team at the same time we’re studying the culture that they’re building. How great it is to have so much fun doing what you love to do and are good at doing. This seems to be the culture motto of the Seahawks. “Having so much fun doing what they love to do and are so good at doing.”
A casual observer watching this team in the Super Bowl would note a few things that differentiate them from their competition:
1. The level of intensity with which they play
2. The voracious competitive spirit that seems to drive them
3. The youthful talent of the players
4. And most of all how much fun they have playing the game
Most of the corporate CEO’s that we serve are avid sports fans. This being the case, they typically observe a championship team like the Hawks and immediately grab these superficial obvious characteristics and slap them into their corporate values, set new goals or start holding a series of meetings touting the team’s winning characteristics. So we see goals or values like “fun” or “integrity” or even “teamwork” plastered on boardroom walls and websites across corporate America and wonder why nothing ever really changes.
The reason is that fun is by-product not a goal; it’s the result of great culture. It’s a fruit, not a root.
Some teams may have fun playing the game while they lose miserably. Employees may have fun playing ping-pong at work while they fail to achieve their performance goals and end up getting fired or worse yet, the company goes broke. Winning is the goal. Having fun is a by-product of how you play or of winning itself not a goal. Watching this team play captures this concept.
One of the ways to get a feel for the kind of culture that exists on a team or in your organization is to listen to the casual comments that flow freely out of the mouths of team members as well as leaders. If you listen carefully when they speak naturally about their work, relationships with leaders and teammates, and how they truly feel about what really matters when all the cheering is over, you’ll discover some wonderful secrets.
Over the next few blogs, we’ll study this world-class, amazingly productive and successful team. We’ll study 6 elements of their culture to see if we can learn enough from what they say and how they act naturally to capture some tips for building an excellent culture in your organization.