Creating Culture — an “Atmosphere for Success”


Yesterday Rick Barnes, Head Basketball Coach for the UT
Longhorns men’s basketball team, spoke to our management team about leadership.
Here are some of his principles:

“Today a Peacock. Tomorrow a Feather Duster” – you always
need to be improving to stay on top. And sometimes you fail…but you can come

He hires people who weren’t “born on second base and thought
they’ve hit a triple.”
– people who have overcome hurdles appreciate where they
are and work hard to stay there and improve.

There were several others, but one of the principles I
really like is he wants to create an “Atmosphere for Success” for the UT
basketball program.

Rick hired the best assistant coaches and trainer. He built
the best practice facility in the country. He’s working to put amenities and
entertainment in the stadium to attract people.  All of these initiatives to win basketball

Of course he needs talent…but talent won’t come without an
atmosphere for success. Talent in a poor environment will not thrive. And
existing good talent is not optimized without an atmosphere for success.

This reminded me of a story from Malcom Gladwell’s Tipping

The NYC subway in the eighties were riddled with crime. The “atmosphere
for failure” included no air conditioning in the cars, broken windows and
graffiti. The failing output – 20k felonies each year and commonplace

What turned it around? Gladwell claims the turnaround was
due to the "law of the few," and the power of context
. The subway was
suffering from the "Broken Windows" theory–no one cares; no one is
in charge. Graffiti equals public disorder; aggressive panhandling equals an
invitation to more serious crimes. The tipping point occurred when a new subway
conductor set out to win the graffiti battle. There would be no retreat: once a
car was reclaimed, it was never allowed to get dirty again.

The mayor and head of transit police cracked down on the
small crimes and the environment that was creating the larger crimes. They
created an atmosphere for success.

Gladwell calls it the ‘power of context’. In business, I
call it culture.

In a culture for success management must embrace integrity,
accountability, communication and approachability
. The atmosphere is shaped
from little things
–surroundings, dress, communication, and process. And most
importantly, cultural inputs are created from the people hired, starting with
the person running the show. So hire well.

Atmosphere, culture, environment…whatever you want to call
it. As Jack Welch said, “Culture counts.” Cultural inputs or easily neglected, but they are the oxygen and protein for a body of people who create the collection
systems and processes called business.

3 Responses

  1. My Weblog says:

    Decker Marketing: Creating Culture — an “Atmosphere for Success”

    Link: Decker Marketing: Creating Culture — an Atmosphere for Success. How about using the ethical bribe spread WOM?

  2. Atmosphere of Success: Are You A Good Boss?

    For the everyday bad boss, many books and articles offer advice on “signs” of a bad boss, how to cope with a bad boss and how to manage the situation. At the heart of the bad boss scenario is usually that in one form or another, they make us feel bad. …

  3. jay thomas says:

    Excellent material………I’m in.

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