What the Stanley Cup Can Teach Us About Operations

There aren't too many things more exciting than a clinching score to win a championship.  A baseball fan, I still remember Joe Carter's 1993 home run to clinch the World Series for the Blue Jays.  With this in mind, I watched game five of the Stanley Cup finals into early Saturday morning and well past my normal bed time.

After about 35 minutes of sudden-death hockey, Alec Martinez scored and secured the Cup for the LA Kings.  The ensuing celebration was worth the wait, even for a non-Kings fan and casual watcher of hockey.

After the gloves and sticks settled and the replay had been shown a few times, I was surprised to find an operations lesson in that final play.

I recently found this article on operational excellence by Brian Rains on LinkedIn.  In the article, Brian writes:

"Operational discipline means complying with a set of well-thought-out and well-defined processes, and consistently executing them correctly."

The official NHL YouTube Channel

Rains points out that excellence comes from discipline and discipline is the result of consistency.  Which brings me back to the video above from the NHL's YouTube channel. 

Notice how the Kings players maintain their spacing perfectly, following the process for an odd-man rush.  When the rebound comes to the weak side, Martinez is in the perfect spot to put it in the net.

Because that's where he is supposed to be.  That time - and every time- his team is in that situation.  Think of it this way: the first shot may have been from the front office, but it would have never found the net without execution from ops.

Not all of our wins in operations are Stanley Cup caliber, but we win more than we lose when we execute with discipline.  When we have the right person doing the right thing in the right place - each and every time. 

And that's worth staying up to celebrate.