I found today's presentations very interesting. With the two Twins presentations back to back at the very beginning it was interesting to see some of the similarities and differences. I thought that it was interesting that they both addressed doing things the "twins way" in their presentation. They both found this to be very important to the organization. One thing I noticed that was different about the presentation is that one of them chose to focus a lot on the new stadium and the opportunities this opened up for the organization and the other focused more on the players the organization had and the things they could do personnel wise to improve the team in the long run. I personally am more into the personnel side of things so I really liked the points that Dustin made about keeping Mauer and Morneau and using some of the extra revenue from the stadium to bring in some solid free agents.
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I really enjoyed day 4's presentations but I felt that some of the people at the end of class had to rush through their presentations. I enjoyed the presentation about the independent league baseball team because it was a smaller organization in a small market and it was nice to hear some of the inside information he had about the team. Also, I thought the presentation about Lifetime Fitness was very interesting because it is a company that is Minnesota based and their were a lot of things you could talk about including how the company is dealing with the struggling economy and the potential loss of members.
I think most of the presentations went well today. Some of them were a little long and they all had a lot of information but for the most part they were enjoyable. I like Tony's choice of the Saints for his organization to evaluate for a couple of reasons. First, the team has put a lot better product on the field over the last few years and have become a consistent contender every year. Also, I like the choice because its fairly original. I doubt that many people thought of doing the saints for this project but there are a lot of things that you could discuss with a team that had to deal with hurricane katrina and the fact that they were so bad for so many years and now have seemed to turn it around.
I thought that it was very interesting to see an evaluation of nike and adidas today. These are the two major companies in the sporting goods industry so it was interesting to see how they do things differently and what they both do the same. I think Nike is ahead of Adidas currently and I think that is in part due to the fact that Nike has been getting most of the big star athletes to sign with them. Adidas does not do as much marketing with athletes and I think most people recognize Nike commercials but I don't think Adidas has been doing a very good marketing lately.
At the beginning of this course, when I thought of Organizational Effectiveness all I thought that mattered was how a team performed on the field. If a team was winning games and championships, I thought that the team should be considered effective. I don't think I realized at the time how much more goes into deciding whether a team is effective or not. I think one thing that I didn't really think about is how organizations deal with constant change. Within any sports organization, there is constant change taking place. I think it is very important to look at how an organization deals with change to tell whether they are a truly effective organization. When dealing with major change I think an organization must stay patient and really plan out how to make a change. All good organizations should start making change by having an evaluation period first in which they go through all levels of the company and decide if each department is doing its job well and to decide if they could possibly merge certain departments. If an organization is looking for a new head coach I think the evaluation process of individual candidates should be very thorough and they need to really get a feel for each candidate. Then when choosing a coach I think the decision should be made by a few people near the top of the organization. I think that all organizations should bring in input from people throughout the company. With the information they gather, the few people at the top of the organization need to make the best decision for the organization's future. If their are too many people involved in the decision making process it can lead to a lot of bickering and that may lead to panic and a rush to judgment. I believe that a truly effective organization is able to handle change with very few issues because all organizations can operate well when things are cruising along but when an organization is faced with adversity, the best organizations deal with it in stride. Also at the beginning of this course I don't think that I ever really considered how much of a role the environment can play on an organization. The economic environment has a major impact on every organization and I think it wasn't as obvious until our recent economic downturn. Now more than ever we can see the impact of the economy as organizations are losing money because people have less money to spend and therefore ticket sales to all events are dropping. We have seen teams try to increase their ticket sales by offering special packages to college students or by offering family deals and I think it is very important to create certain ticket deals otherwise I think fans get fed up and just decide that it would not be worth it to see their team play in person. Organizations that can get creative with their ticket programs can be a lot more effective than organizations that just keep standard ticket prices even though their ticket sales are steadily decreasing.
Overall I thought all of the presentations today were very good, especially as examples for everyone else in the class. I especially liked Andre's presentation about the University of Minnesota Basketball team. Being a basketball manager, Andre used this to his advantage by including a lot of information that maybe wouldn't be available to the general public. Andre also seemed very comfortable presenting his information and seemed like a very good public speaker.
I found the video about the Supersonics moving from Seattle to Oklahoma City very interesting. There were many things that the organization had to deal with during this major process. First of all they dealt with a change in ownership which is a huge deal. Any owner that is chosen to buy a team has to be approved by the rest of the league owners. This leads to a lot of politicking between owners who support or do not support the perspective buyers. If a potential buyer has made a lot of friends in the NBA over the years then he is more likely to get the team over someone who maybe is making a better offer but they maybe do not know any of the other owners. Also in this video, we got to see some politicking from other stakeholders. One thing we saw was the politicking from former players and from current players. One person that they talked to was Gary Payton, who was a star player for the team in the 90s and he talked at length about how much he did not want to see the team moved from Seattle and what a mistake that would be. Also, they talked to current player Nick Collison about the move and he was very against it. He didn't want the team to move. I would say the players should have a big impact on a decision like this because the organizations invest a lot of money into these players so they should make decisions that keep these players happy so they get the best product on the field. Another area of politicking we saw was the fans of Seattle. Clearly no one wants to see there team leave their city for another. When the talk started about moving the team, fans really did not believe it. Then after the team was sold to the ownership group from Oklahoma City, the fans started to become suspicious. They began to start rallies and they tried to get support for the team to stay in Seattle, but at that point it may have already been too late. I think a lot of fans take their teams for granted and only support them when they are good, but this clearly shows that if you do not support your team it can be taken away from you very quickly. Seattle took their team for granted and this lead to their owner selling the team to a man who had other intentions for the organization.
Organizational culture is a very interesting topic. There are many different aspects involved in the discussion of culture. Most often, culture is defined as the shared ideas, beliefs and values. Culture plays a big part in all sports organizations. I think a good example of a sports organization with a strong culture is the New England Patriots. I think the culture of an organization is established by the people at the top. Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, was originally a fan of the team and he was fed up with the way the organization was run which made him decide that he wanted to buy the team. After purchasing the team his first order of business was to build a new stadium. Kraft realized that the Patriots could not be competitive unless they had a new stadium because the fans did not have a good experience at the games so they were less likely to come back. He created a better physical environment for his team and then he worked to create a more successful team with a stronger culture. He started by hiring people that he felt were good at evaluating talent. He hired Scott Pioli as his vice president of player personnel who has now become known as the best at what he does. He also hired Bill Belichick as his head coach. Kraft, Pioli and Belichick worked together to set the standards in their organization, and this lead to them having a strong culture. One of the things the Patriots do very well is they do not leak any inside information to the general public Whenever they have any injuries, no one knows whether or not their players will play or not. Another example of the strong culture of the Patriots is shown when they bring in new players. There have been multiple examples of the Patriots bringing in players who had been considered trouble makers on their previous teams like Corey Dillon and Randy Moss. After the Patriots sign players like this you do not hear about them getting into trouble. Once players sign with the Patriots they immediately understand that they do things differently and that if they do make mistakes, they will be held accountable for their actions. New players come into New England and they see players like Tom Brady and they immediately follow in his footsteps without any question. I think the culture of an organization is established at the top and then the rest of the organization will follow after them.
The Athletic Department merger was very interesting because it provided a real life example for a lot of issues we discussed throughout the semester. I personally did not know the athletic department had separate departments for men and women. I think that all four of the people who spoke in front of the class brought a different side of the story. I do think the University made a good choice with Joel Maturi to be the Athletic Director that would be in charge of the task of leading the University through this historic change. I thought the stories that the track and field coach had were very interesting. He talked about how upset all of the different coaches were when Maturi had to make decisions on what to cut from the athletic department and how he had to calm down many other coaches after they left meetings with Maturi. The track and field department had to take many cuts to their budget and they had to deal with many changes but he talked about how all of the coaches needed to take a step back and just realize that the change was for the best and even though no one was very happy about the things they had to give up, these changes were made to help the department in the long run. A lot of budgets needed to be cut so that things could be consolidated. The athletic department lacked a lot of efficiency when the men and women had separate departments. They had people performing the same tasks for very similar departments and it was costing the University a lot of money. Now they have one person supervising the marketing department for the whole athletic department. When they consolidated the departments into one this lead to many departments being combined. This caused many headaches for Maturi because he then had to fire certain people and this lead to a few tough decisions. I like the way Maturi handled this situation by guaranteeing all of the employees that they would all keep their jobs through the first year. This allowed him plenty of time to evaluate the employees and it lead to some people leaving which made some decisions easier for himself. The University needed to complete a major merger and they needed to find an athletic director to lead them through this change. They picked Joel Maturi and I totally support that decision as he has a great personality to lead people through a major change like this one. He is very positive and tries to make sure that people don't just see the trees but that they also see the forest.
I would honestly say that Kenny Mauer was one of the best guest speakers I have ever had speak to my class. He was willing to share almost everything with us and wasn't afraid to state his opinions on some of the major issues that caused the labor dispute. He also didn't mind when we brought up the whole Donaghy situation and the effect that has had on NBA officials. One thing that I really liked about Kenny was that he showed that he was worried about his security over the long run. This was not Kenny's first lockout with the NBA. He understands what the NBA is trying to do to the officials and he is used to all of their tactics. He knows that David Stern is going to try and bully the officials around and get his way, but even in the preseason their were many coaches and players complaining about the officiating and begging David Stern to end the lockout. If the officials would have waited it out, most likely at some point, a game that matters would have been effected by an official's call and this would have lead to the NBA being put in a tough situation and then the officials probably would have gotten more of their demands met. Most of the young officials did not want to risk losing their job and they were willing to sacrifice things that would help them in the future in order to keep their job right now. Kenny really tried to emphasize planning for the future and making sure that whatever they compromised on with the NBA would still be good for all of the officials over the next 10, 15, or even 20 years. I thought that Kenny was also very personable which I really liked. Right away he made sure to mention the fact that he was Joe Mauer's cousin and he talked about what a nice guy he was. Also, he had a bunch of stories about his time in the NBA and how he interacts with certain fans and players. He talked about how when he is home he usually calls a youth basketball game and how one time a fan was yelling at him from the stands and didn't believe it when people told her that he was a referee for the NBA. I think that by telling us all of these personal details it made him a very likable person and that we were all kind of pulling for the officials to win their lockout battle against the NBA. I think that David Stern exploits a lot of other people because he understands that he has a lot of power seeing as he runs one of the wealthiest sports leagues in the world. This is smart but it leads to many smaller constituents not getting what they want in the long run.