First-Of-Its-Kind Michigan Sports Conference Puts Emphasis Back On 'The Team, The Team, The Team'

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Analytics and statistics have taken over the sports world. In fact, the use of mathematics to provide a competitive edge is so ubiquitous, that it has become ineffective at giving one team an advantage over another.

That’s the premise behind a new program at Michigan Ross that aims to bring something back to sports that a cultural obsession with statistics pushed aside: The Team, The Team, The Team.

“Coaches have done a great job of using stats. However, they currently create competitive parity, but they no longer give teams a competitive advantage,” said Richard Wolfe, faculty director of the new Sport and Organizational Dynamics Conference, launching at Michigan Ross on Feb 22.

Enter the world of business and the lessons of organizational behavior research — which will be the innovation leading to new competitive advantages in sport.

Wolfe, along with conference co-director Kim Cameron, professor of management and organizations at Michigan Ross, have developed a two-day conference for sports professionals (general managers, head coaches, assistants, etc.) to meet with and learn from Ross professors and researchers, business executives, and other sports leaders.

Cameron said the conference will “cover the research-based factors related to organizations that will help teams excel. These aren’t things that are typically measured by coaches and sports organizations, but paying attention to them can unlock a lot of power.”

Among other lessons, the conference will teach attendees:

  • How to use the lessons of business organizations to develop an optimum team culture
  • How to cross cultural divides and get players from different countries and backgrounds to develop a sense of “one team”
  • How to lead a group of specialists, each with different expertise and differing, sometimes conflicting perspectives

Cameron and Wolfe said this is a first of its kind conference. While there are a lot of events where teams can learn the ins and outs of analytics-based performance indicators, there hasn’t been one that focuses rigorously on team culture.

“There’s no doubt about it, this is the next big thing in sports,” Wolfe said. “The engine that will drive the next powerhouse teams to victory is organizational dynamics.”

Learn More about the Sports and Organizational Dynamics Conference