Let me make a couple of position statements here before you all start sending me hate mail and such:

  • Lionel Hollins is an incredible coach.  Makes his players better, and helps them achieve dramatic results.  I like him.
  • Unlike other journalists, sport writers don’t really report news.  They mostly report their own opinions about sports and in doing so, often rile things up so that they have a story.
  • We won’t really know what is going on until after the dust settles.

That being said there are some lessons from the situation that are worth commenting on that we might be able to learn from.

  • Hollins has created a Grit and Grind culture of performance that the team embraced, delivering unexpected heights of performance from a less than superstar cast.  The ownership packaged that for the consumption of the fans.  Culture can and usually does trump strategy.  You should do the same in your organization.
  • The new owners want to add in a “statistics” element to the culture.  It’s perfectly reasonable to do something like this.  Also very difficult.  One must make sure when adding an “aspirational” core value or competency, that the existing ones aren’t diminished or eliminated in the process.
  • Hollins and team management appear not to see eye to eye on this.  “Cultural Conflict” exists.  And being played out in the papers.  Press conferences, pep rallys, etc.  that seem designed by each side to paint each other into a corner.  Can’t paper over dysfunction like this for very long.

At this point it’s only a matter of time before Hollins will have to leave.  Even if the press machinations embarrass the  team into keeping Hollins, trust doesn’t exist.  Cultural alignment won’t exist.  Both are necessary for continued excellence.

It’s a difficult situation and I feel sorry for both sides.  Love Hollins, love the new management (remember Heisley? Ugh).  Need a coach to help align the team?  I know a good one.  ;-).