A Lesson in Strategy from the USA Women’s Hockey Team

In the startup world, pivoting is a prerequisite superpower. Sometimes an idea isn’t the great idea. Sometimes a good strategy isn’t the winning strategy you need. Taking the time to analyze your mode and method can mean the difference in a great effort and a great result. Just ask the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team.

The ladies have taken their fair share of losses from their Canadian counterparts. The two teams have met in the championship game of 5 of the last 6 Olympics, and share a heated rivalry. The Canadians beat the U.S. to take the gold in 2010 and 2014, both in magnificent last second fashion. In Vancouver in 2010, the Canadian Women dominated on their home turf in the first matchup.

Then, in 2014 in Sochi, the Canadians stole an overtime thriller. Forward Hilary Knight lamented the losses, saying, “The heartbreak is like having a bad relationship and it going sour. That’s what it is, right? It’s always going to be there. It’s part of your fabric.” Sick of losing, the U.S. Women looked to change that fabric in PyeongChang.

But on Thursday during the group play round, Canada once again beat the U.S, scoring two decisive goals and shutting out the beleaguered Americans. Though the girls outshot their Canadian opponents 45-23 in the group stage, they still came up short. Determined not to relive their gut-wrenching loss in Sochi, the team knew that something had to change. Coach Robb Stauber, ready to turn the tide of the rivalry, emphasized strategy. He let his forwards loose, preaching that they “pound the goal with shots.” This aggressive new strategy paid dividends.

The team executed coach’s strategy to a “t” and even then needed overtime and a shootout to snatch the Olympic gold from the cold, hard clasp of their northern neighbors. Coach Robb Stauber’s focus on a deliberate and structured scoring attack provided the push needed to change their losing streak into a historic victory. A measured and well executed change in strategy can prove to be the difference between a good effort and a championship result, on and off the ice.

Take a page out of the gold medalists’ playbook. While your initial strategy may get you on the proper track, and even provide a boost in productivity, it may not be all you need to get over the hump from good to great.

Don’t be afraid to challenge your strategy on the fly and in the field with your team. Your strategy may be working, just not as well as you’d like. Dig deeper and find the strategy that gives you the results you need. Periodical analysis, tweaking and perfecting your strategy and performance is critical to staying ahead of the game. Just ask the newly-crowned Olympic champion U.S. Women’s Hockey Team.

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