Teamwork & Rowing: 2008 National Scholastic Championship, Oak Ridge, TN

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Launching area for the crew regatta

click on image for live feed web-cam Building Teams and Teamwork is the mantra of the modern manager.

How does a manager take a group of talented individual contributors and motivate them to, well, pull together as one unit in the same boat?

Last year The Chronicle of Higher Education lurched into the truth in an article All for One.

It was a story on rowing.

And in it Your Business Blogger(R) read a business lesson.

For both my business practice and The Dreamer’s crewing at her high school.

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Race Course

Click on image for live feed

web-cam The Oak Ridge Rowing Association and the Scholastic Rowing Association of America is sponsoring the 2008 National Scholastic Championships in Oak Ridge, TN. Several thousand visitors will go down to the river and pray for blue skies and flat water.

We are packing up the monster Huck-a-truck and the Penta-Posse (minus The Dreamer traveling with her team) and will gas-guzzle our way to the Volunteer State to watch our girls compete at the regatta.

With a monster carbon footprint.

Listening to the Oak Ridge Boys .

(Ain’t America great or what?)

The Women’s Freshmen Eight will row at 10:15am on Friday the 23rd. Please check the schedule.

The Women’s coach was able to persuade decision makers to allow his team to use the Invictus. A new and faster boat used by upper class men at their high school.

Where tenths of a second determine winners, the perception of crewing a world-class shell can make the difference. If the women think they are faster, they will be.

Rowing is 90 percent mental, the other half is physical.

Apologies to Yogi Berra.

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Scholastic Rowing Association

of America

Regatta 2008

Which brings us back to Notes From Academe, in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Writer Scott Smallwood visited the Cambridge University Boat Club in the UK to write about the yearly Oxford-Cambridge competition.

Alert Readers will recall that Charmaine and Your Business Blogger(R) read at Oxford and attended our first rowing event on the narrow creeks that pass for rivers at ox ford.

Duncan Holland, the Cambridge coach with some 20 years experience, helped Dutch rowers to an Olympic medal. He well understands that even though he’s got winning seasons, only one race matters as a condition of (enjoyable) employment:

Beat Oxford.

Picking eight rowers seems like an easy task for a coach,

With rowing machines that can spit out reams of numbers about how fast and hard every rower can pull, what’s so hard about choosing a team? Why not just pick the eight strongest guys and be done with it? It turns out…that team dynamics are trickier than that. The eight who are eventually chosen will be not necessarily the fastest individual rowers, but the best combination of rowers.

Smallwood continues,

Quintus Travis, a past president of the boat club and now treasurer, puts the mystery more bluntly: “There are always a couple [of rowers] who are stunted, but somehow they make the boats go faster.”

The Brits can be brutal.

Mr. de Rond is a professor at Cambridge’s Judge Business School and is studying the Cambridge athletes and the team and the coach,

…de Rond sees the answer [of the faster boats] in how team members bond. He draws a comparison from a 2005 paper in the Harvard Business Review by Tiziana E. Casciaro, of Harvard, and Miguel Sousa Lobo, of Duke University. The pair studied likability versus competence. Their work boils down to this: When choosing whom to work with, do you pick the lovable fool or the competent jerk? People, especially managers, often say they value competence above all. But in practice, they’ll often trade some of that competence for likability. And that may not be so dumb.

Mr. de Rond doesn’t think any of the Cambridge rowers are incompetent. No matter how lovable you are, you can’t get in this boat unless you’re a top-notch rower.

But here the Cambridge rowers become a self-directed team. Something business managers talk about but seldom see,

When the tentative roster was chosen,” says [de Rond], Dan wasn’t originally on the list.” The other men successfully lobbied the coaches to put him in the varsity boat, even though by the numbers he was a borderline choice. Now, he says, [Dan’s] social skills — he’s the class clown, really — have improved the psychology of the entire team.

Like the coaches, this is where managers work their magic. To assemble a team that maximizes strengths and minimizes weaknesses, as Peter Drucker said.

So the women’s coach got a better boat for his team. Coaches and managers get paid to figure out the immeasurables; the intangibles that go into building a winning team.

This Freshman Women’s coach has got it figured out.

If he reported to me, I’d get him a raise…

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Yorktown Crew Boosters Thank you (foot)notes:

On April 7, 2007, in the 153rd match-up: Cambridge beat Oxford.

This is a cross post from Management Training of DC, LLC.

All for One by Scott Smallwood was published on May 4, 2007 in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

See video from the Stotesbury Regatta.

From The New York Times, From a World-Class Rower, Tips to Sharpen Technique. Watch the video on how to film a rower’s movement and a slide show on training.

Mix It Up

“There’s this saying that ‘Miles make champions,’ ” Michelle Guerette said. So she spends up to five hours a day on the water, doing a variety of workouts. Mix these pieces into your own sculling training:

BUILDING BLOCKS A base training session “addresses fitness, feeling and rhythm,” Charley Butt said. As with a runner, he said, what matters is “how a rower gets in the miles.” He advised rowing for 25 minutes at 75 percent of full pressure at a stroke rate of 16 to 20. Then, he said, paddle for 5 to 10 minutes and repeat. Maintaining a low stroke rate allows you to concentrate on technique.

Stan Hudy will not be at the races. A loss for us all.

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