High-performance Culture at Canada Basketball
A strong, high-performance culture is essential for success in today’s competitive business landscape. Canada Basketball recognized this and turned to Innerlogic to help them measure and improve their organizational culture.
Canada Basketball is the governing body of basketball in Canada and has committed to developing its high-performance culture with its 30 full-time staff. They oversee programs at amateur and grassroots levels throughout the country and are responsible for both the men’s and women’s Canadian national basketball teams.
Michael Bartlett, their CEO, firmly believes in the importance of a high-performance culture. He explains, “I’ve always regarded myself as a leader in tune with culture KPIs, without having KPIs to assess the culture. You can definitely feel it in an organization. Good culture, bad culture.”
However, Michael also understood that gut feelings could be biased and inaccurate. “Gut feeling is one thing, but it’s not accurate. It’s biased. And data is not biased. It’s accurate,” says Bartlett, wanting to bridge the gap between the feel and high-performance culture data.
“It’s not the view of a consultant, It’s not the eye of the expert, it’s the data. So that bias is completely removed. There isn’t an organizational behaviour consultant that is sitting in on your team meetings.It’s the data being driven entirely by employee feedback.”
That’s why Canada Basketball turned to innerlogic. As Bartlett points out, “The main thing we wanted to achieve from innerlogic’s platform was a direct link between the feel and the data,” he says. By recognizing the advantage of data-driven insights, it can gain a more objective view of its high-performance culture, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and involve its entire staff in the process.
Canada Basketball spent a good amount of time understanding the tool and the company, and an already present relationship with Bryce, the CEO of innerlogic, helped build trust. Michael mentioned, “Also, it helps that Bryce as a leader, is known to Canada basketball. He has been part of our environment before as a mental performance coach. So, one of the things that we would have uniquely known that maybe another client wouldn’t, but I encourage them to spend the time to establish it, is trust.”
One of Michael’s goals was to achieve 100% participation in the assessment. He was confident they could achieve it. And they got it! Bartlett emphasized, “we’re happy that this demonstrates that culture is important across the organization. And I think this marker tells that story. So that gives me great confidence in our employees’ future engagement. That people will lean into this. And people value this process because they value their role in the culture we’re creating.”
The why: The results first highlighted the importance of understanding the ‘why’ behind an organization’s vision, values, and objectives, especially with the next generation of the workforce. Recalling his earlier experiences as a young professional: “As an employee growing up through the system. A hierarchy was it. I didn’t ask why. I was like, when do you need this? I’m not saying why it’s impeding our progress. It’s not. But I’m proud that employees now ask why.”
“I believe what innerlogic taught us the most is the why is foundational for culture. I didn’t know I understood that as clearly as I do now. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of that communication and direction being culture setting.”
Gaps: However, addressing these gaps is crucial. “I called Bryce the minute we got our survey back… I didn’t realize we had this many issues.” Bryce offered reassurance, emphasizing that “everybody’s got this many issues. It’s what you do about it that matters.”
Values: Another area identified by the data was the need for clear, articulated value statements. Bartlett explains, “One of the things that came up for us as well was, while our data as it relates to values and trust in the values was strong, being able to articulate, and verbalize what the organizational values were, was low.”
Connection: The data also indicated that collaboration and communication needed to be a focus. With most work done remotely, “the flexibility that now exists in where you work and how you work directly impacts communication and collaboration.”
Vision: Michael was excited about the fact that they have “over-indexed” in vision and ambition, indicating a growth-oriented environment. “I obviously prioritized certain elements of culture over others. So, my gut check was validated because of the areas that I feel are most important in setting culture. We’re doing pretty good.”
Breadth and depth: However, he also recognized that their gut check was limited to a few variables. In contrast, a high-performance culture can be a broader concept: “the gut check is three or four variables. Culture is much broader than that. There’re 12 factors, some of which are also new to me in quantifying and verbalizing what they are and it was super important to recognize that they’re all interrelated, and one isn’t more important than the other.”
Bartlett emphasizes that a high-performance culture is everyone’s responsibility. “It can’t only be on us,” he says, referring to the senior leadership team. “The teams have demonstrated that they want a say in our culture objectives, strategies, and tactics. So now there’s some work involved that they’ll also have a role in.” Canada Basketball is creating segmented action plans that hold employees accountable. This way, everyone in the organization is involved in improving their high-performance culture.
One of the most important aspects of engaging everyone is by leading with honesty and transparency. By sharing the assessment results with all staff, Canada Basketball is creating a high-performance culture of transparency and accountability. “Own your truth,” says Bartlett. “We’re sharing our entire assessment with all staff. You’re not only getting the executive summary of all the good stuff. The good news is we’re telling you where the gaps are.” By being transparent about the organization’s culture, Canada Basketball is building trust and promoting an open and honest culture.
Furthermore, they have already started addressing some identified issues, like communication and collaboration, by encouraging more in-person interactions and cross-departmental collaboration. “We’ve talked to the staff about reinstituting more time in the office because we have to facilitate more cross-department, cross-level, top-down, drive-by time.”
Moving forward, the organization plans several day-long workshops to plan inclusively and develop clear value statements that everyone can align with and articulate as he acknowledges the need for employees to know “not so much the why but the what” of their organizational values.
With innerlogic, Canada Basketball was able to link the feel and data of its high-performance culture. Through the assessment process, they identified strengths like vision and ambition and specific areas where they could improve, like articulating values, supporting the integration of particular departments, and creating time and space for organic communication and collaboration. By leading with honesty and transparency and making culture a shared responsibility, Canada Basketball is building a high-performance culture that will help the organization support its best better.
“I’m happy to be an open book. I want to be an advocate for more in this sector to do this work. It’s important. At the end of the day, it’s doing an immense service to organizations that are willing to do the work. So it’s an investment I would make a hundred times over. “
Bartlett is excited about the future and the opportunity to measure their progress a year from now. He says, “That’ll tell the story of whether we took this the right way.” Stay tuned for an update on their progress in the coming months!