by | November 28, 2012, 4:00am 0

Last week I wrote about the the dangers and difficulties associated with structure.  This simple post ballooned into an excellent and thorough discussion of the topic.  Kyle, Andrew and Tiina’s comments stand out as both complete and insightful.  As with all broad conversations, things sneak in without notice; I want to catch one of those sneakers because it is so important.

First, I want to make a vocabulary distinction.  When I wrote the article, I intended structure to mean strategic structure.  Examples would include horizontal and vertical stacks, zone defenses, directional marking, set plays, etc.  Throughout the comment section this implied definition was sometimes refined (Kyle’s rules, guidelines and concepts) and sometimes blurred.  The blurring of this definition was to include other aspects of organization, notably team culture.  There is no question that team culture has organization to it.  Each team has its own character, values and behaviors whether intentional or unintentional, but this is distinct from structure.  So, two concepts: structure and culture.

In my experience, teams pay too much attention to structure and not enough attention to culture or skills.

Your team culture effects everything you do.  When you create a positive and successful culture, all the work gets easier and more enjoyable.  Unfortunately, for most teams, culture is never directly addressed.  When it is addressed, it is often reactionary after something has gone wrong.  One of the things that has made Revolver so successful is the team culture they have built through their IHD mantra.  That triple pillar infuses all their work, drives their success and contributes to their remarkable focus.  Look again at Tiina’s comment.  Four of her ten suggestions are directly related to building and maintaining team culture.  A word about team culture – while it is well worth the work, it is a lot of work.  Don’t expect to adopt a slogan and have all your problems solved.  Just as establishing good structure requires repetition and discipline, so too does establishing good team culture.

Dilemma’s anguished question: “To change my team’s structure is to change my teams foundation. Who am I to do this? Why change the very thing that is great about my team?”  This is a culture question, not a structure question.  The work that Dilemma is already doing just by asking the question is far, far more than most teams do.  And that’s a great place to start.

Feature photo of Revolver huddling at the 2012 Club Championships (Photo by Jeff Bell –

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