Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch – Part 2: Who are we?

Who are we? Establishing Program & Team Cornerstones
10 years ago one of my good friends Byron shared something life-changing in our adult Sunday school class. He shared a family crest he had developed with his family. It was pretty simple artistically speaking, but eternally powerful. His family had brainstormed and created 4 or 5 values that represented ‘Who we are.’ This provided the foundation for making decisions in the future – they just bounced them against their cornerstones. My family has adopted this same philosophy. We have an annual session where we brainstorm about who we are. I’ve attached the latest rendition of what we came up with. We keep it fun and sometimes even silly, so please understand the ‘Dog-botherers’ comment is an inside family joke and we love animals. 🙂
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Now we all know that if you try to focus on 10 or 20 things you will focus on nothing. So we then decide as a group on 4 or 5 of these values that will be our cornerstones.
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The more I talk to great coaches, the more I see this same type of process happening in great programs and teams. It starts with the coaches establishing the cornerstones of the program. But equally important is getting the buy-in from the team, so doing this type of brainstorming session with your team captains every year will establish your identity as a team. Here are some of the great ways I’ve seen this implemented:
  • Andres Montana – Learned from Bruce Brown at Proactive Coaching – Gather the coaches and 3 captains in preseason and define your Core Covenants – who are you going to be that season. Brainstorm by throwing words up on a board, then narrow it down to 2 or 3 that are going to define your team. Then you can order the livestrong-type bracelets that have those words on it. Check out Proactive Coaching’s guide to creating Core Covanants: First Steps to Building Successful Teams
  • Ken Stuursma’s program core covenants – from Raising a modern day knight:
    1. Accept responsibility
    2. Lead courageously
    3. Reject passivity
    4. Expect a greater reward
  • Chris Stricker’s program core covenants: CALI – Commitment, Accountability, Love, Integrity
  • Drew Maddux has Manhood Mondays – every Monday during the season they have different coaches and players create a shield with 4 parts to share with the team
    1. Tell a childhood story that defined them
    2. Tell a recent story that defines them
    3. How does the public view them
    4. Who their private self is
  • Rob Elwood’s team have 2 cornerstones:
    1. Gratitude – We thank our parents, the referees, our coaches, our teammates
    2. Be organized, everything has a place
  • John O’Sullivan – Great teams don’t have rules – great teams have standards.  Rules are meant to be broken – standards are expectations that the team agrees upon and holds each other accountable to.
In his book Inside-out Coaching Joe Ehrmann shares the goal: ‘Be a transformational coach rather than a transactional coach.’ It starts with your cornerstones.

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