The Player Driven Culture System Case 1: Collaboration

Jan 5, 2021 | Program Development

The Pathway: Teaming


“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.” - Confucius


By Mike Kuchar
Senior Researcher/Co-Founder
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikeKKuchar


“Nobody washes a rented car.” If you spend enough time around North Forney High School (TX) head coach Randy Jackson, you’ll probably hear that gem on more than one occasion. A layman’s translation: if something isn’t owned, what responsibility do people have to take care of it? A football program’s culture must be owned, not rented, and it must be owned by every player and every staffer that associates with it. And if the landing is ownership, then the launch must be a collaboration, where players are given the opportunity to work with coaches in protecting the culture. For those like Coach Jackson, this competency is more about accommodating a lifestyle inherent in this generation more than any generation that came before it. "Kids have information available to them now everywhere,” he says. “They don’t need us for information. Their voice is heard by liking and sharing things all day on social media. How can we not give them a voice, but they are getting it everywhere else?” How players are given this stake will be the focus of this competency. So, for many reasons, I felt impelled to begin my research with this collaboration. Without collaboration, there is no ownership. And without ownership, there is no player-driven culture.


Collaboration as a Competency

One of the base foundations of establishing a player-driven culture system is generating ownership through collaboration. While the head coach and his staff are responsible for building the program’s culture- which I elaborated on in the Prologue- in order for players to feel as if they have an investment in the culture, they need to be entrusted with the process of defending it. The behavior of collaboration is without question more relevant now than it has ever been. The players that coaches are working with now are used to having a voice. It’s the social media generation, where every “like” is quantified and every voice, regardless of source, is equitable.


Why Collaboration is Essential to Creating Player-Driven Culture

Coaches are now using collaboration to empower players with various ways in which they can have ownership in the program, all of which I present in this study. The science behind the positive effects of collaboration is overwhelming, and perhaps too lengthy to go into detail here. Quite simply, collaboration is one of the prime behaviors that lead to ownership, and this collaborative effort between a coaching staff and its players is developed through an act known as "teaming." The Harvard Business Review defined teaming as the process of identifying and briefing essential collaborators to work together in accomplishing a goal. Consider the “goal” as the core values described in the Prologue. While this competency of “teaming” may be a mainstay in the business world among adult professionals, it has only started garnering traction in football programs. It’s the goal of any player-driven model to build a culture where teaming expected and begins to feel like a natural part of the developmental culture.