The Haslam family purchased the Cleveland Browns from Randy Lerner in October 2012.
It has been a rocky road that only recently seems to be smoothing itself out.
There were a lot of lost games, expectations of a turnaround in 2019, and disappointment when that did not come to fruition.
Someone please take the Browns away from the Haslam family
— Yu Chang Clan Fan Club (@CaseSkywalker) January 12, 2020
After the 2019 season, it seemed like the Haslam family began to reflect on the past mistakes and actively worked to fix them.
Obviously, failure was never the goal, but it took time to figure everything out.
So here's a disheartening stat: Under the benign neglect of Randy Lerner, the #Browns had a .350 winning percentage. With the Haslam family's hands-on ownership, their winning percentage is .258.
— Vince Guerrieri (@vinceguerrieri) September 14, 2020
Figuring things out included identifying successful processes and priorities and finding the right people to manage them within the organization.
Here are a few of the mistakes the Haslam family made and learned from as evidenced by the turnaround of the Browns in 2020.
Mistake #1: Conducting Undisciplined Personnel Searches
Discipline is a character trait that exists both on and off the field.
Exercising the appropriate discipline when choosing executives in a professional football franchise is also paramount.
In January 2020, Jimmy Haslam reflected on this mistake prior to hiring the Stefanski/Berry duo in their current roles.
“I think the first two or three searches we ran, we did not have process and discipline. I think last time, we did much better, and I think this time will be even better in terms of being very disciplined in how we go about things, gathering data, doing really good research, getting references, etc. … It has been and will be very thorough.”
It is believed that Haslam is referencing the hiring of head coaches Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, and Hue Jackson with this comment.
Mistake #2: Hiring GM First And GM Selects Head Coach
When those coaching hires failed, Haslam decided to go with a top down approach of hiring the GM and allowing that person to choose the head coach.
That was the John Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens era.
It was not always clear if Dorsey and Kitchens were seeing eye-to-eye, and Haslam did not confirm or deny that when he was asked after the fact.
“I think we can always do better. I think it’s really important to get alignment, not just coach and GM but within the entire organization.”
Haslam did not make that mistake again.
He hired Kevin Stefanski and allowed Stefanski input on the GM candidate.
Both Stefanski and Berry directly report to Haslam; the Browns are not a top-down organization anymore.
Mistake #3: Losing Sight Of Organization’s Priorities
Personality differences and priorities among people can complicate the basic goal.
Haslam simplified it in 2020 when he said there are three priorities.
- Improving individually
- Helping the team
When broken down like this, everyone can get on the same page about how to get there.
This eliminates a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and ill will.
Though the learning curve may have been slower than Browns fans liked, it does appear the Haslam family has gotten it right.
Jimmy and Dee Haslam have learned from their mistakes and are building a great organization which will hopefully usher in a winning era in Cleveland.