Clint Hurdle has had a challenging 2014 season.

Is Changing The Pittsburgh Pirates Culture A Job That's Just Too Big?

To build a winning a team and a successful organization you must create a culture of greatness.

It’s the most important thing a leader can do because culture drives behavior, behavior drives habits and habits create the future. As the leaders at Apple say, “Culture beats strategy all day long.”

When you create a culture of greatness you create a collective mindset in your organization that expects great things to happen—even during challenging times. You expect your people to be their best, you make it a priority to coach them to be their best and most of all you create a work environment that fuels them to be their best.

A culture of greatness creates an expectation that everyone in the organization be committed to excellence. It requires leaders and managers to put the right people in the right positions where they are humble and hungry and willing to work harder than everyone else.

A culture of greatness dictates that each person use their gifts and strengths to serve the purpose and mission of the organization. And it means that you don’t just bring in the best people, but you also bring out the best in your people.

You probably already guessed.  Yeah, this was another Clint Hurdle email that was sent out today.

It made us think about what twenty years of losing must do to a culture.  We don’t have an answer for our stupid question – we just think about it.  A.  Lot.

It must have been monumental when the Bucs have started to falter in the past couple of years, no….I mean in the past….forever.   We’re not joking, though.  It has to be a big deal.  A two-or-three game Pirates losing streak immediately causes fans to lose their minds, so imagine the impact that the historic 2012 collapse must have had on the ‘culture.’  The questions about the streak just never end.  It’s a fair question, but it must just suck.  Really, really, suck.

But back to the quote…the interesting part for us is the “culture beats strategy” line from Apple.   That’s difficult to read when one reflects on what Hurdle has done during the opening series of 2013.   The Gaby, the Wandy, the Tony, the Tony with the bat – hell, there are all kinds of things that could challenge Hurdle’s strategy.

It’s nothing new.

Colorado fans tried to warn us what was coming our way with Hurdles “stra-teg-ery.”  To put it simply, Hurdle isn’t going to be compared to Tony LaRussa anytime soon, it’s hard to imagine him out-strategizing an opposing skipper on a consistent basis.

It’s just too depressing to think about the opening series of the 2013 season.   But let us focus on one really specific situation.  Andrew McCutchen was the tying run on third base in the ninth.  Gaby Sanchez had just hit a bleeder through the right side,and was standing on first base as the go-ahead run.   The winning run.  The walk off run.

There was one out.

The Pirates have nobody on their bench fast enough to swipe second base, but we’ve talked about the bench too much this season, so we will leave that alone.  The possibility of a double play was something that simply couldn’t be avoided due to the bench players available–due to the decisions made in the creation of the 25-man roster–due to the strategy used earlier in the game which created the reality.

Gaby Sanchez had to be left on first base because Jose Tabata had already replaced Garrett Jones.  Gaby is really slow.  But anyway,  the Pirates had runners on third base and first base.

Again, there was one out….what were you thinking was going to happen?

Not many people could have predicted Neil Walker was going to pull a Carlos Marmol outside pitch and hit into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

But then it happened.

And all of the questioning of the strategy continued.  The fans started asking questions about the players’ execution.

Just like the past 20 years.

The strategy used during the opening series was flawed.  The ability of the players to execute any strategies also failed–badly, on numerous occasions.  A culture of 20 years of losing  is created by poor strategy.

Poor strategy for a long, long time.

It’s rather easy for an organization like Apple to boast that “culture trumps strategy.”

But when a 20-year culture of losing has been created by the Pittsburgh Pirates, they have also unknowingly generated a collective mindset among their fans, maybe among their players, that expects bad things to happen.


Here is the full post by Jon Gordon:  A Culture of Greatness


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