The Washington Wizards are working with Mike Forde, the CEO of Sportsology and former senior manager of an English Premier League soccer club, as the team attempts to reset its culture ahead of hiring a new general manager, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation.
On April 2, majority owner Ted Leonsis dismissed Ernie Grunfeld after 16 seasons as the Wizards’ top basketball executive. Leonsis said he planned on taking three weeks to speak with members of the basketball operations staff to listen to their feedback. Leonsis also revealed he would use an independent consultant for advice.
“We are bringing in a third party,” Leonsis said April 3. “They have great gifts and great background in sports in a global basis, and they’ll be able to help us to create that, too.”
Forde started his consultation career after spending six years (2007 to 2013) as the director of football operations for Chelsea. During Forde’s tenure, the organization won the Premier League, the top division of English football, as well as other championships. According to Forde’s website, he assists sports franchises in creating successful cultures as well as talent management. He does not identify his business, Sportsology, as a search firm.
Although Forde’s career started in England, he has become popular in American sports. Forde has reportedly advised the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons. On his website, he lists working with the San Antonio Spurs during their 2014 NBA championship season, sharing how he “assisted them in building a performance model for sustained success.”
In a 2015 article titled “Managing Talent with Big Egos,” Forde wrote “. . . if we have a big ego talent who is coachable and open to continual development then we have a chance for greatness to appear. However — and the fatal mistake I see most often inside high performance teams — is the lack of a ‘learning culture’ to support this talented individual to deliver on their potential.”
As the Wizards move forward with the next hire, Leonsis has said he wants to create a more collaborative culture.
“My main goal is to right now, as fast as I can, bring in an outside firm to provide some services for us,” Leonsis said April 2. “I want to do what’s called ‘best practicing'. What do the best organizations look like? What do they spend? Maybe I made mistakes in the way we spent and invested our money. I have to be open-minded."