What Can We Learn from the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

hockeyAre you watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs? If not, there’s still time to tune in and see a game. The second round is just winding up and round three, which will lead into the championship round, will start soon. Here’s what I find so impressive:

  • Each round is a best-of-seven-games, so you can see how each team adjusts as they learn more and more about their opponent or if they don’t.
  • On the ice, they really work as a team. They all focus on that small black frozen puck and try to position themselves to receive a pass from their teammate or to steal the puck from the opponent. And at the same time, they are sensitive to where everyone else is in relation to the puck so that they can get between the puck and their own goal to help their goalie defend the net.  It’s a constant struggle to be both offensive and defensive.
  • Off the ice, the team is following the action and ready to get back on the ice. If you aren’t paying attention, you may miss the fact that hockey teams switch “units” every few minutes. It’s a constant stream of substitutions as the team goes up and down the ice past the bench. Switching units is the only way they can keep up physically with the speed and agility that the sport demands.

As the game goes on, the tension builds in anticipation of a goal. So many shots-on-goal miss getting in the net, but when one finally does, the crowd and the team celebrate. And as the clock winds down to the end of the game, the intensity accelerates. Each team doubles the effort with units switching in as little as 30 seconds–all in an effort to get that puck into the other team’s goal.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had that same focus, teamwork, and exhilaration about our own projects? Wouldn’t it be great to know that you and your team all had the same goal and you were all working towards that goal so that you could feel exhilarated and celebrate together when you reached that goal?

As a second grade teacher, I had a class that just didn’t seem to care about learning addition. Of course, there are always some who are outstanding and are already there and there are always some who need extra help, but most of the class was just so-so. I put up a bulletin board with a baseball field and had a ball player with each of their names and then I explained the rules. We’d have a flash card competition each day, until every one made it around the bases. To advance to a base, you needed to be faster than your opponents. If you defeated three, you advanced to the next base. It only took two weeks to get everyone around the bases! And then we had a cupcake party!

Simple steps:  Define the Goal. Work as a Team. Celebrate the Win!

Now think about your work. You probably have a few goals that you plan on doing someday. It’s just that someday never comes.  So make it simple:  Pick one to focus on. Get the team together and define the goal and the deadline. Plan the celebration. Then just do it.

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About Dorothy McGovern

Dorothy McGovern (VP of Client Services at Spitfire) has been with Spitfire since Day 1. Prior to Spitfire, Dorothy worked at IBM and the National Aero Space Plane group at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (where she made a hole in one on the 18th hole on the same day she fell out of the golf cart. Since it was the 2nd time she had ever played golf, it seemed like a good day to retire from that sport.) The postings on this site are her own and don’t necessarily represent Spitfire's positions, strategies or opinions.

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