The Bottom Line: Dolphins cluelessness starts at the top.
I asked one of my smartest bosses for the secret of his success. His four-word answer ‒ Good people, well managed.
The byline for TV's Mad Men – Where the truth lies – applies to the Miami Dolphins organization.
We don't know where the truth lies in the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin story, but everybody knows something about the core of this team is rotten.
It cannot be a value of an NFL team to needle a player off the roster, or to foster a locker room where it's cool to be crude. QB Ryan Tannehill is still a callow youth who might not have recognized the problem. Inexperience excuses his cluelessness. He will be alert to the well-being of his linemen from now on.
Team owner Stephen Ross ought to be asking why his chain of command from position coach to head coach was blind to something that caused the mid-season loss of two starting linemen, tarnished the Dolphins' reputation and put his company at risk of a costly employment lawsuit.
Whether you blame Richie Incognito or Jonathan Martin for this imbroglio, the 'Phins violated the four-word secret of good people, well managed. No wonder they missed the playoffs for five seasons. By definition, teams that miss the playoffs for five years are poorly managed and don't have enough good people.
If you think this is a fluffy issue, consider how hard the military works to build teamwork in a rifle company, or how hard-charging Steve Jobs built Apple.
Ross' team had a Humpty-Dumpty moment. He did what executives do when that happens. He called in consultants. His first call was to the NFL who will investigate the symptoms of his problem.
The league sanctioned Saints head coach Sean Payton for looking the other way on his team's "incentive program." Joe Philbin may already be in their sights, but that won't fix the Dolphins' real problem. The real problem is that the Dolphins didn't take care of both Martin and Incognito.
The Marine Corps knows that the heart a good rifle company is made of a team that cares for, fights for, its buddies. Miami a team in name only and Ross has to fix that.
The 2011 Super Bowl Giants hired Afterburner, a consulting firm of ex-military officers, to foster teamwork when the team's season was on the brink. Tom Coughlin credits Afterburner for the Giants' Super Bowl run.
Other teams bring in sports psychologists and organizational specialists to foster genuine teamwork. In a warrior culture, the military is a favorite target for motivational speakers. The scandal merely exposed organizational issues that need to be fixed the way the Marine Corps would fix them..
So, how good an executive are you, Mr. Ross?
Photo credit: Winslow Townson, USA TODAY Sports. You Tube clip from A Few Good Men, Columbia Pictures.