By Paul J. Pickett
I was reminded of why culture matters the other night as I watched a very brief interview with Hall of Fame Detroit Pistons player-turned-President of Basketball Operations, Joe Dumars. He said
“You have to fight complacency anywhere you see it within your organization. You have to fight it anywhere you see it. So everyday I come in here, it’s about maintaining success and keeping your foot on the gas. And….we have to make sure we maintain our culture.”
I really like this quote, but I gotta tell you, being a Pistons fan has been strangely frustrating for the last five years. I say strangely frustrating because despite making it to the NBA’s version of the Final Four for the last five seasons in a row, they’ve only won the NBA championship once, back in 2004. And it’s not just that they only won the championship once, it’s that they were so close to getting back to that point time-and-time again.
Think about it, the fans that are most disappointed at the end
of a season are the fans who watched their team make it to the final
round – expecting them to win – only to see them lose. It’s not the
fans of the team that didn’t even make it to the playoffs. They weren’t
expecting their team to win any way.
But in Detroit, we’ve been expecting our Pistons team to win the title for the last four years. And after last year’s season-ending loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Conference Finals, Joe Dumars made it clear that complacency would not be tolerated. And so far this season, so good. The Pistons team has been playing games like Joe said, maintaining success by keeping a foot on the gas. I like that.
And I like how Joe doesn’t measure success by coasting along at the speed of yesterday’s win, but by accelerating to a pace that is higher than that. The culture of his team is one of constantly increasing awareness. The culture of his team is one of being committed to finding a better way. Joe Dumars knows that people are what make up a team and the culture that team plays within.
And even though we don’t play in the NBA (perhaps a few of you do), it’s no different for you and me.
The culture we play within matters. So make sure you’re placing yourself around the kind of people who are setting a new standard with their foot on the gas, not coasting along with their foot on the floor board. Make sure you place yourself within a culture that encourages you to innovate, not to regurgitate. Anything less could make you feel strangely frustrated.