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The Patriots and Cheating - Can You Label an Entire Workplace Due to the Actions of a Few?

Last week I threw up a post telling all HR pros they should love the NFL's New England Patriots.  Great culture - no emphasis on stars, results through teamwork.

The feedback was immediate and split down the middle, with two camps chiming in:Cheaties

Camp 1 - I agree with the assessment.  Patriots rule and they have a great workplace culture!

Camp 2 - You can't give the Patriots credit for having a team-based culture, because they were caught cheating during the first game of the season

First up, I get why Camp #2 reacts in that fashion.  The whole scenario of the Patriots taping to try and steal signals is unseemly, at best.  It's cheating, pure and simple.

But, I can't judge a whole workplace culture by the actions of a few.  In my article, I present the opinion that the Pats are different for four reasons - they use motivational fit to figure out the best talent that fits their organization, they can assimilate outliers, like Randy Moss with no disruption, their management is focused on results, not drama, and their whole culture is team-based.

All that remains true.  You can't label an entire organization on one incident, and the factors listed above are independent from that. Should we all be branded by the Accounting person who embezzles money from our company? By the Sales person who booked fake sales at your shop until he got caught?   

I'm glad I'm not judged solely by the outliers who have had legal trouble in the organizations I worked for in the past. That might be ugly as I look back. The Pats are 18-0, and "spygate" didn't propel them to that.  Their team-focused culture did...

PS - I offer up the mock "Cheaties" box for entertainment purposes only.  Amazing what low-cost digital tools allow consumers to do these days....


frank Giancola


The head coach and his assistants cheated by taping the defensive signals of the visiting teams, and several visiting teams had their communications connections with the press box mysteriously go out in New England when on a TD drive.

When your CEO (head coach) cheats and gets fined by the league ($500K), I think your corporate culture is corrupt. This is not a case of a few "outliers, " who don't represent the team, it's the management of the team. The players, just like other employees (such as those at Enron), can succeed despite this wrongdoing and reflect the good things about the culture, but it can't help but reflect on the team as a whole.



you know my take on it. i've posted about it before. they've been under more scrutiny this season because of what happened early on, and dealt with something that could have derailed them to go on to be undefeated. they paid their fines, and they moved on. and they moved on well. they didn't let the accounting guy embezzling kill the morale of the whole organization and take down the whole business.

go patriots!
all the best!


pass this to fb please..

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