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This mini-case study is part of our Culture-in-Action Series.

Every well-coached sports team goes into every game with a plan. In the 2007 Super Bowl game, the Indianapolis Colts had a game plan. Unfortunately, that plan did not include Devin Hester running the opening kick-off back for a touch down. According to Ben Utecht, Colts tight end and co-founder of Keystone Culture Group, “my first response to the opening kick-off was to vomit, until I looked to our Head Coach Tony Dungy and quarterback Peyton Manning and saw that they were both composed, as usual, and Coach Dungy didn’t change our plan for our opening set of downs. All proceeded as planned and we won.”

The point here IS NOT that leaders remain steadfast to plans regardless of the prevailing conditions, it is the people in organizations will gauge the strength of the leadership team, in part, according to how they manage real or apparent disruptions in execution of the business plan that has been promoted and accepted by the organization. The culture of organizations dictates how a team designs and manages “game plans”.

Keystone Culture Group Case Vignette:

A senior leadership team of a community health system has committed to a clinical service strategy. Meaning, the team is betting on a small number of clinical programs to better position the organization for a future in a highly competitive marketplace. One of these key clinical service lines is Orthopedics. The number of affiliated orthopedic providers affiliated with the organization in insufficient and specific subspecialties are under-served. All available physicians exist in small, independent practices. All physicians compete with each other for patients. Each independent group is more or less well managed. The physicians’ “beliefs” regarding the likely success of the health system’s orthopedic service line strategy vary; some to the point where two of the independent groups are considering inviting competitors to the community. The governing board of the organization is questioning the clinical service line “game plan”, including the leadership team’s ability to execute the plan with success.

“Belief systems” affect the culture of teams. Culture provides the rails on which strategies move toward required goals. In the absence of “cultural cohesion”, the potential of the most brilliant game plan should be questioned.

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