#Winnipeg Jets, #SystemsThinking, and why a new coach was needed

Today the Winnipeg Jets relieved Claude Noel of his coaching duties. Claude Noel was always professional and I wish him well in his future.

While I read some of the comments and responses I was reminded again about Systems Thinking and how we are too quick to blame people for being lazy. The majority of people today seem united in the opinion that the players let the entire coaching staff down. The players were depicted as overpaid millionaires that had lost the passion for the game and were lazy. Now I don’t have any inside knowledge of the team, but this comment reminded me of the type of comments we get on projects when teammates do not meet the objectives others have set for them. The teammates are painted as being lazy, without passion and drive, and in some instances it is said they lack talent and skill.

Sound familiar?

Many types of Systems

Now the system I am talking about isn’t the hockey system the team is using for offense or defense. (although I imagine those are equally important systems) I’m not referring to the “lack of a hockey system” that several Pittsburgh Penguins players were quoted as saying the Jets lacked. I’m talking about a system that is a bit more foundational than that. (Although those systems may need improvement as well)


Many people refer to the type of system I’m referring to as the Culture of the organization. I like to think of culture just being the set of behaviours that the organization has valued by the people and processes in that organization. If an organization has a culture of skipped meetings, it is because the people and processes there tolerate that behaviour. If an organization has a culture of gossiping and rumour-spreading, it is because the people and processes in the organization at least tolerate it.

The Winnipeg Jets currently have a culture or set of systems/practices that allow for inconsistent play and the appearance of a lack of passion.

Is that the player’s fault? Nope. They are just operating in the system they are in.

I often hear that the players are paid professional and should not need to be motivated. They should be able to motivate themselves. Well I would counter that by asking people to remember a job where passionate professionals were not rewarded. I think we will all remember we slowly adapted to that system.

Well you ask, isn’t the coach also just a member of that system and not to blame?

I’d agree partially. It is my personal opinion that people higher up in the organization should take more accountability when the system doesn’t work.

It didn’t appear that the system or the culture changed over the past two and a half years. That is why a move was made.

We will see how successful Paul Maurice is in changing the system. I hope he has read books on System Thinking.


Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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