Tag Archives: lakers

hockey lessons for winning work.

Game on!

Game on!

Maybe I read too much about management, but I couldn’t help but look for lessons this weekend while on the road with the Oswego State women’s ice hockey team (I’m a faculty mentor). Sports is a zero-sum game — if we win, it means you lose — while higher ed is (ideally) about fashioning win-win opportunities. Nonetheless, here are some thoughts.

Hierarchy. We have a head coach, assistant coach, three co-captains and 25 players. Chances are the head coach communicates directly with any individual player. Mistakes are ironed out quickly through direct interaction. No memo from the president to the provost to the dean to the department chair to the faculty. There are drawbacks to a 1:25 supervisor ratio, especially in terms of individualized attention, but communication is clean, clear, results-oriented.

Resource management: The coach has to field a starting goalie, two defenders and three forwards. Rotation is four lines of forwards, three lines of defenders and you hope you can keep your two backup goalies on the bench. You may have a speed line, a big line, or mix and match, plus penalty-kill lines and power-play lines. Staffing is flexible and sometimes lineups (project teams) vary; if you’re a player down due to penalty, you’ll want to put out your best defensive forwards and may have to mix up the pairings. Everyone brings different skills to the mix, and determining successful chemistry of various lines is a difficult art.

Motivation: One game this weekend saw the backup goalie get a start to stay fresh and one forward kept out of the lineup to send a message. Sometimes such positive and negative reinforcements can bite you if all your players don’t respond the way you’d like. But then doesn’t this happen with office project teams?

Reacting/responding: The two games were against Chatham University, and Oswego dominated Saturday’s contest in a 5-1 win. But the home team came out hungry and energized on Sunday, traded blows and capitalized on enough Laker mistakes to win a 4-3 overtime thriller (well, the Chatham fans were thrilled anyway). The Lakers didn’t assume the win — and played better overall (51-25 shot advantage) — but Chatham responded and took advantage of chances. Like in the business world, games are sometimes about how you capitalize on opportunities. Now it’s up to Oswego to respond this week in practice and try to win a two-game series hosting Cortland this weekend to stay in the playoff chase.

Certainly there’s plenty to take away here. The more hierarchy in an organization, the slower and more muddled the communication. As we all try to do more with less, resource management — figuring out the strengths of members of work teams, and how to maximize skills — becomes increasingly important. It’s paramount to find the right motivation to keep workers moving forward in these challenging times. And with the speed of technology, reacting/responding decisively and quickly can be the difference between failure and success.

There are many other life lessons one learns while traveling with 25 female student-athletes, but that would make for a really long blog entry.

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we can be [hockey] heroes, just for one day.

Imagine you’re working in Web production when someone comes up to you and asks you to step into your dream job. That’s what happened to Brett Leonhardt, a former SUNY Oswego goalie who, for Friday night at least, got to suit up for an NHL game.

Brett Leonhardt living his dream. (AP/Luis M. Alvarez Photo)

Brett Leonhardt living his dream. (AP/Luis M. Alvarez Photo)

He was certainly in the right place at the right time. Leonhardt, a 6′ 7″ guy who always seemed an intimidating presence in Laker green and gold, works on the Washington Capitals Web production team when word came down that goalie Jose Theodore injured himself during warmups. The veritable Moonlight Graham wasn’t asked to start, but with the time lag to recall another goalie from the minors, Leonhardt suited up, took part in pregame drills and sat on the bench.

This isn’t a perfect Hollywood story, as he didn’t get in the game. He won’t even receive a game check, but interviewed later he didn’t care. I should pay them for being able to do this, he said. Every dream come true. Growing up in Canada, playing since I was 4. It was just very surreal.

I guess my dream-job moment would involve being asked to put down the laptop and go warm up in the Seattle Mariners bullpen. I’d soak in the air of beautiful Safeco Field on a summer night, enjoy the easy camaraderie of the other pitchers, savor the feel of the ball leaving my hand and the snap sound of it hitting the bullpen catchers’ glove. That alone would be enough.

Far-fetched, to be sure, but: If you were called away to do your dream job, even just for one day, what would it be?

Unless your dream job is working with the Web … in which case, more power to you!

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