What does the NHL have in common with Workforce Management?

Great examples for managers of true management in the moment – labor adjustments based on poor performance to impact final outcome, achieve goals, etc. – can be clearly seen in in pro hockey’s playoffs.

In previous posts I’ve written about the impact of Big Data and Analytics when it comes to Workforce Management strategies. These are organizations that track and measure the correlation of labor data to business performance in an effort to impact business outcomes and strive for continuous improvement. We’ve also discussed the concept of managing in the moment, where operations and department managers can take action immediately based on exceptions or requests.

Photo credit: Boston.com
Photo credit: Boston.com

For those of you that are not aware, tonight is game four of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m an admitted bandwagon Bruins fan. During the regular season, I don’t watch much hockey if at all (I’m a basketball coach and fan). But when the Bruins are in the NHL playoffs, I have been captivated for the past five years or so. There is absolutely no other sport with a better post season than the NHL.

Take game three of the Bruins/Penguins 7-game series that was played this past Wednesday night. A double overtime thriller! After jumping out to a quick lead, the Bruins were getting beat statistically in nearly every aspect of the game. After three periods of play, the game was tied at 1-1. However, the Bruins were being totally dominated by the Penguins.

Whatever changes the coaching staff made going into the overtime clearly made an impact. Like a line manager in a manufacturing plant, after reviewing the performance data and comparing it to historical trends, adjustments were made in an attempt to impact production and output. The Bruins outplayed the Penguins statistically in the first overtime, and ultimately prevailed in the second overtime, winning 2-1.

Another great example of employees going above and beyond to ensure success can be seen in the video of Gregory Campbell of the Bruins. In the 2nd period with the game tied 1-1, Campbell intentionally slid across the ice to block a Penguin shot with his body. The shot fractured Campbell’s leg, yet he stayed on the ice for nearly a minute to finish his shift. His effort was clearly an inspiration to the rest of his team.

Game four of the series is tonight, and no doubt we’ll see more examples of executing management strategies based on real time data and managing in the moment. Go Bruins!

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