by Jack Warren, editor of AthleticOps.com and host of the Ops Nation podcast
I want you to [cliché alert] think outside the box. More than that, however, I want you to read and listen outside the box. What box? Your box. Specifically, your operations or sport-specific box.
Take a look at your bookshelf the next time you’re in the office. How many of the book titles are specific to the sport you currently administer or the operations field in which you work? How many are not? Take a look at your iTunes podcast playlist. I’d ask you the same question there.
John Wooden is considered by many to be the greatest coach of all time – regardless of sport or level. Coach Wooden authored or co-authored approximately 17 books. Do you know how many were about the game of basketball? Three. That’s right. Three. Every other book dealt with leadership, organization, and other development topics.
People often ask me what I’m reading lately and are often surprised to hear that none of the last three or four books were related to baseball. Or they could have been just as easily been all about baseball. My typical reading list might include books on The Great Depression, the War Between the States, self-help, and (always) a biography.
That goes for podcasts too. What surprises people about the 12 or so podcasts I listen to regularly, more than the fact that only two podcasts are baseball related, is the subject matter of the others. One is about the RV (recreational vehicle) lifestyle and one is about Walt Disney World. I don’t have an RV and I have been to Walt Disney World two or three times in my entire life.
You and I should approach our positions much like a CEO or COO of our own small corporation. It is imperative that we learn all about our business and craft. That means more than operations (or podcasting) content. You need to look to other critical areas such as leadership, organization, creativity, staffing, and more.
I listen to a Walt Disney related podcast because it give me ideas about creativity (among other things). The RV podcast helps me with ideas about tapping into my community. A book on The Great Depression – well, it’s just interesting.
What are you listening to and reading that is helping you in areas that aren’t necessarily tied to the every day functions of operations? Think about areas where you, the staff you work with, or the athletes in your organization might need development – and don’t limit yourself. Think about the common topics like leadership, organization, utilizing resources, technology, creativity, time management, as well as some less common topics. Then be creative in your resources to learn about or get ideas for this particular area.
In the very beginning of a new venture, I will utilize how-to books, videos, and podcasts, but quickly move on to resources that show these particular areas in practice. That’s why I listen to various podcasts to learn about various aspects of the creative process or see how the host connects with his community.
Make this part of your yearly staff planning session. Think of several areas of emphasis for the coming year and then find resources to support you in this endeavor. Bounce these ideas off your fellow staff members, athletes, and peers to see if they have suggestions for resources. Think, read, and listen outside your box.