Thursday, December 4, 2008

The most important thing about a team's identity is that it unifies

Posted this morning about the rate at which the Celtics are accumulating technical fouls.

As described in the post, it's less about the techs and more about emotion. Playing with great passion is critical to their identity. Playing with emotion is a core value in Boston.

After writing that post, I went looking for a book by Carl Larson on teamwork that I'd read 15 years ago. In the book, there's a section called "the Unity Dimension" in which the author discusses the two best AFC teams in 1973: The Raiders and the Dolphins.

The Raiders of 1973 "were a heavily penalized team with a 'nasty' reputation. When the Raiders came to town, they came not only to play football; they came to 'kick ass.' They liked to try to intimidate -- some would say bully -- opposing teams." [Think Ken Stabler.]

On the other hand, the '73 Dolphins "were one of the least penalized teams in the NFL. They ran on skill and precision. They were smooth, polished professionals." [Think Bob Griese.]

As Larson writes:

"The point is that they were both effective and successful teams. And the point is not which identity is better. The point is that both teams had an identity that coalesced and unified the team. Both teams stood for something, operated according to a common set of values, and were clear about what kind of team each was. The most important thing about team identity is not that it's the right one or the best one, but whatever the identity is, it unifies."