Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Tale of Two Hockey Teams

I am a Hockey Dad. My two sons, who go by the names Theo and Zach in the blogosphere, play competitive hockey in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL). With some sports leagues you are sent a schedule at the beginning of the season and you are good to go. Not so with the GTHL. The schedule is only published about 2 weeks into the future. And there is no such thing as a home rink where you would play half your games, we  play all over Toronto and its suburbs. Oh, and games may be rescheduled, practices moved, exhibition games and tournaments added etc.

Net-net, scheduling  is dynamic and complex. Effective communication amongst coaches and parents is critical. This a tale of two hockey teams, and how they communicate to make sure their players make it to the rink on time.
Theo's team uses email for 100% of team communication. I receive about 3 emails a week from the team manager on schedule updates and other team business such as payments, discussion on tournament participation, fundraising etc. I am asked to confirm attendance also by email.  Emails are also exchanged between parents as we coordinate car pools, play days and exchange contact info. To keep track I religiously enter events into my calendar and parents contact info into my contacts. Invariably both I and other parents have missed an update and turned up at the rink at the wrong time at least once. Its a lot of work for the manager, the coaches and all the parents, but it gets the job done.

Zach's team uses a Social Media tool called TeamSnap to manage all team business. A schedule is maintained, parents mark attendance for games and practices, each player has a profile with all their contact info, payments are managed, photos are securely shared and I could name another hundred great capabilities. Killer features include an RSS feed, Outlook calendar synchronization and an iPhone app. It is simple for the manager, coaches and parents to stay on top of the schedule and team business.

So which communication solution would you prefer if you were the manager or a parent? Now if you collaborate on a dynamic and complex project in the workplace would you still choose email as your primary communication channel over social media collaboration tools?

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