Gruden & The Raiders: 3 Ways To Prevent Culture Collapse

How the Raiders could prevent a culture collapse
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If you were watching, listening, or anywhere within 500 feet of this organization you could tell that something was off and maybe even have helped to prevent culture collapse.. There was evidence on the person going back as far as 2011, when The New York Times reported racist comments from Gruden about DeMaurice Smith. This was preceded by evidence on the organizational level as well that there was not a lot of clarity on vision moving forward in this article by Deadspin where Gabe Fernandez said this,

“… he definitely torpedoed any chance the Raiders had of being competitive over the next few seasons, but what does that matter when you can save a few bucks in the process?”

Preventing Culture Collapse: What Does It Come Down To?

  • Lack of alignment between analytics, staff, and athletes.
  • Lack of measurement of off-field factors like mindset, culture fit, and tactical knowledge.
  • Lack of measurement of empathy, authenticity, and psychological safety in leadership.

High Performance Culture Model

Use this model to help prevent culture collapse
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The High Performance Culture Model integrates high performance, mental wellness, and great culture in one place.

It places the athletes at the centre and wraps performance of staff and athletes in layers of on field analytics combined with Culture Analytics.

At the Athlete Level we need to promote and measure things like growth mindset, mental health practice, and self determination, and more.

At the Staff Level we need to promote and measure psychological safety, mental health practice, empathy, authenticity, and knowledge.

When incorporating Sport Specific Analytics they need to be aligned across competition and practice, involve multiple levels of people (including athletes), while aligning with broader mission, vision, and goals.

Finally, the Culture Analytics need to measure mindset of the members of the group, tactical knowledge to perform strategy properly, and involve re-testing for both gap and growth analysis.

Mistakes Were Made

In Oakland/Las Vegas, we’ve been able to see serious gaps from the outside looking in. Just looking from the outside, it is clear to us that the Raiders lacked the following factors to prevent culture collapse:

  • Psychological safety, empathy, and authenticity that connects staff with athletes.
  • The capacity/desire to measure things that allow for better connection and growth at the individual, team, and organizational levels.
  • Alignment and accountability with many of the things inside the High Performance Culture Model. There are certainly components of the different dimensions in this model in silos, but the threading of those dimensions throughout is lacking, as is measurement of them.

And that is all just from the outside.

What Was Learned To Prevent Culture Collapse

The reality is that preventing a culture collapse like this was entirely possible, by using tools and strategy that is effective.

The Raiders have provided a case study in what happens when alignment and accountability are lacking. John Gruden is the story now for the horrible things he said out loud and in writing, however the broader focus will eventually point to how high performance, diversity, and inclusivity can be fostered more effectively in these organizations.

Most importantly, we need to make sure we centre athletes in high performance models, while measuring more than just on field performance, so that bigoted attitudes that impact far more than on field performance can be identified and removed early.

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