Ted Leonsis, Washington Capitals owner: 10-points about rebuilding

I have to say, alot of this goes toward building a team within a company as well.  When it refers to "Draft" I think you look at that as "recruiting".  Mainly, know how you want to operate your group and don't get seduced by "paper tigers" – if they're from 20-years at a big company, they may not fit in a small, dynamic company and they may never be happy and never contribute.  This might be the ultimate sports analogy (which I use often when managing and leading teams) but I can't help reading this and making this analogy.


What I have learned about a rebuild to date: A 10 point plan. A Washington Capitals perspective:

1. Ask yourself the big question: "Can this team–as constructed–ever win a championship?" If the answer is yes — stay the course and try to find the right formula — if the answer is no, then plan to rebuild. Don't fake it–really do the analytics and be brutally honest. Once you have your answer, develop the game plan to try to REALLY win a championship. Always run away from experts that say, "We are just one player away." Recognize there is no easy and fast systemic fix. It will be a bumpy ride–have confidence in the plan–"trust and verify: the progress — but don't deviate from the plan."

2. Once you make the decision to rebuild–be transparent. Articulate the plan and sell it loudly and proudly to all constituencies, the media, the organization, the fans, your partners, family and anyone who will listen. Agree to what makes for a successful rebuild–in our case it is "a great young team with upside that can make the playoffs for a decade and win a Stanley Cup or two."

3. Once you decide to rebuild–bring the house down to the foundation–be consistent with your plan–and with your asks–we always sought to get "a pick and a prospect" in all of our trades. We believed that volume would yield better results than precision. We decided to trade multiple stars at their prime or peak to get a large volume of young players. Young players will get better as they age, so you have built in upside. Youngsters push vets to play better to keep their jobs, and they stay healthier, and they are more fun–less jaded by pro sports.

4. Commit to building around the draft. Invest in scouting, development, and a system. Articulate that system and stay with it so that all players feel comfortable– know the language– know what is expected of them– read the Oriole Way*. It worked and it is a great tutorial. Draft players that fit the system, not the best player. Draft the best player for the system. Don't deviate or get seduced by agents, media demands, or by just stats or hype. Envision how this player will slide into your system.

5. Be patient with young players– throw them in the pool to see if they can swim. Believe in them. Show them loyalty. Re-sign the best young players to long term high priced deals. Show the players you are very loyal to them as compared to free agents who achieved highly for another team. Teach them. Celebrate their successes. Use failures as a way to teach and improve. Coaches must be tough but kind to build confidence.

6. Make sure the GM, coach, owner and business folks are on the EXACT same page as to deliverables, metrics of success, ultimate goal, process and measured outcomes. Always meet to discuss analytics and don't be afraid of the truth that the numbers reveal. Manage to outcomes. Manage to let the GM and coach NOT be afraid of taking risks, and make sure there are no surprises. Over communicate. Act like an ethnic family–battle around the dinner table–never in public. Be tight as a team. Protect and enhance each other. Let the right people do their jobs.

7. No jerks allowed. Implement a no jerk policy. Draft and develop and keep high character people. Team chemistry is vital to success. Make sure the best and highest paid players are coachable, show respect to the system, want to be in the city, love to welcome new, young players to the team, have respect for the fan base, show joy in their occupation, get the system, believe in the coaches, have fun in practice, and want to be gym rats. Dump quickly distractions. Life is too short to drink bad wine.

8. Add veterans to the team via shorter term deals as free agents. Signing long-term, expensive deals for vets is very risky. We try to add vets to the mix for two year or three year deals. They fill in around our young core. They are very important for leadership, but they must complement the young core (NOT try to overtake them or be paid more than them). Identify and protect the core. Add veterans to complement them, not visa versa.

9. Measure and improve. Have shared metrics–know what the progress is–and where it ranks on the timeline– be honest in all appraisals; don't be afraid to trade young assets for other draft picks to build back end backlog– know the aging of contracts– protect "optionality" to make trades at deadlines or in off season; never get in cap jail. Having dry powder is very important to make needed moves.

10. Never settle–never rest–keep on improving. Around the edges to the plan, have monthly, quarterly and annual check ups. Refresh the plan when needed but for the right reasons– "how are we doing against our metrics of success and where are we on our path to a championship." Never listen to bloggers, media, so called experts–to thine own self be true. Enjoy the ride.

Check out Wineblogge.rs – Help me setup a new WBC community site…

So, I guess its pretty common knowledge that I don't own the OWC any longer.  But I've learned a tremendous amount creating and growing that community to the level it was at (6000 or so members of the wine community).  The main lesson I learned is that a community without a common reason to interact or an offline venue to network (i.e. the online community as an extension of the offline community) is really hard to make succeed.  Even the hieghts that the OWC reached were still not considered a success by me (and maybe you as well).

The one thing that was helpful was having a place for WBC attendees to interact about the conference, share rides/rooms, learn about each other.  And since the conference is my passion I'm setting up a community for the conference.  Help me test it out.

Login is simple – its connected to Facebook, Twitter, and Google so no sign up is necessary.  A couple quick questions and you're done.  The site may ask for your email address but thats to manage alerts and such.

There are forums, groups, and a member map (which I need to test), Chat, and a feature request system that works like a Digg.com page (built in).  I plan on adding Session RSVP (so you can see who's attending what session) and I'll integrate the WBC blog as soon as I upgrade that.  I could also make ticket purchases available through here as well if this works well.

At a minimum, we need place to coordinate rides and stuff, and it has the upside of allowing folks to continue conversations that may start at the conference.

I think the coolest thing is the URL!  Just go to:  http://WineBlogge.rs 

Let me know what you think!  "Friend" me on the site and hook me up with feedback.  Thanks!

Right now its EARLY testing!  Not many people there.  If it looks good and works well I'll auto-add all the attendees.

Washington Redskins Become First NFL Team To Hold Tryouts for Replacement Players – Hogs Haven

Good thing I’ve spent the winter training and getting ready…I’m finally gonna get my shot !!!

Washington Redskins Become First NFL Team To Hold Tryouts for Replacement Players

Riggins_tiny by Ken Meringolo on Apr 1, 2011 9:12 AM EDT in Redskins News

You have to give Bruce Allen credit. He has not been idle very much this offseason. As an active participant in the discussions between the players and owners last month, Bruce Allen was already pretty busy. But now he has really stepped up the activity at Redskins Park by announcing that the Washington Redskins will be holding open tryouts in April for potential replacement player roster spots in September.

Director of Player Personnel Scott Campbell was seen yesterday in Upper Marlboro, MD at a practice for the semi-pro team, the Upper Marlboro Nokotas. Rumor has it he will be in attendance at a game this weekend for the semi-pro team out of Annapolis, MD, the Thunder.

If you have seen these leagues in action, you know that they wear full pads, are stocked with legit athletes and generally have plenty of players who understand the game of football pretty well. They also come with the best names, like Big Baby Taylor, Easy Munny and The Terrible Terl.

To me, this signals a very real indication that the Redskins are looking to follow the tradition that has been established in previous work stoppages: field the best replacement team in the NFL.

We expect that most roster spots will be handed to guys who have at least some experience either in the AFL or UFL. But the open try-outs in April will undoubtedly produce at least a few diamonds in the rough.

For anyone interested in signing up for the open tryouts at Redskins Park, please call 817-892-4400. They’ll be handling the reservations there and making sure people know what they have to bring.

Again, that number is 817-892-4400.

Is this a good decision by the Redskins?

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