Here at RDS we talk a lot about building an Intentional Culture. So, what is it exactly that we are talking about? What do we mean when we say Intentional Culture?
First, a definition:
The behaviors, beliefs and characteristics of a particular group.
So, the culture of a league is the behaviors and beliefs that are characteristic of it.
Some groups have a culture of promptness. Everyone shows up to the practice space fifteen minutes before each practice start time and they are geared up, have full water bottles and have taken a few warm-up laps before the time that the practice is scheduled to start. If promptness is a part of the league culture then they don't just say that they are ready to start on time, they actually do. Nearly every time. And when a member isn't prompt it is addressed.
Some groups have transparency as part of their culture. Every league leadership and committee meeting has an agenda posted a week before hand, is open to all stakeholders and complete notes are sent out out within a week after the meeting. No decision is ever made that impacts the big picture of the league without community conversations surrounding the decisions. These groups believe that it is valuable to for every stakeholder to have input in league decisions.
Many groups have a culture of conflict aversion. If you ask, 'what do members do when they have a conflict with someone else in the group?' the answer is; 'they suck it up', or 'they talk about it with their close friends'. These actions are more characteristic of the league than going directly to the person with whom the conflict originated. And if someone did attempt to straightforwardly address a conflict they wouldn't find social or structural support.
Within every group, and therefore ever derby league, a culture exists. It exists whether we take the time an effort to make it intentional or not. Not every league wants to have the same culture. Some leagues strive to have a culture of inclusiveness where everyone has the opportunity to skate and all skaters are equally valued. Others want to create an intensely competitive atmosphere where skaters go above and beyond to be placed on the roster. Some groups value honesty above all while others prize accountability.
Unintentional league culture acts like a Hydra (the mythic Greek monster, not the WFTDA trophy). If you address the negative behaviors of one member, even if you kick that member out of the league, incidents of the problematic behavior will continue from other members.
A strong culture has a profound affect on our behavior. A successful league makes sure that their League Culture fosters the behaviors they want to see from their members. And they do that by taking the time to be intentional in setting and maintaining that culture.