By Debbie Brzozowski and Micah Hegerle
In their article Bolman & Deal outline the different structural assumptions we see in organizations. These organizations range from aircraft carriers to UPS delivery, but today we looking at how the same concepts can be applied to the world of sports. We chose to look at the University of Minnesota Women's Rowing team, which is a unique sport and has been a growing presence on campus over the past decade. Looking at the rowing team it is easy to see a hierarchical structure of authority. Starting with Wendy Davis the head coach, the hierarchy descends to assistant coach, novice coach, graduate assistant coach, coxswain and finally rower. Decisions are made based on individual testing such as timing distance runs, and how well the rower moves the boat on the water during daily practices. While Wendy Davis makes the final decisions about who will row in the top boats on the team, the assistant coach has a voice in the process and overall rank on the team also comes into play.
As the team has grown over the years, the standards have changed for the athletes. With team members pushing each other, the expected level of fitness has been raised by over five minutes on timed tests since rowing became a varsity sport at the U of MN. The core processes of the team are aimed toward competition, and although strategies may vary with each season, the overall focus is the spring season, with the common goal of the team to reach Big Tens and the NCAA national championship.
The environment of the team is focused around a family aspect. There are rules in place and authority figures, but there is also a comfortable familiarity between teammates, and everyone knows their place and value within the team. As part of the pursuit to be better both personally and as a part of the team, there are additional workouts, with the athletes' weight lifting and running 4 miles twice a week with heart rate monitors to record their efforts. These monitors open up the technology of being able to see heart rate improvement and efficiency over the course of a semester, and also give the flexibility to for the athlete to monitor their progress without the presence of a coach. Having this ability is a great motivator to push harder with each workout. The team also uses logbooks to record daily workouts to track progress over the seasons. The logbooks help with planning personal goals for tests, and also becoming more educated about lifestyle choices such as diet and amount of sleep averaged each night. Since the coaches review the logbooks, they provide a way to stay accountable in daily decisions, but also a way to be more independent and learn the effects of certain choices and what works best for each individual, leading to a healthier more successful workforce.