Thursday, August 16, 2018

Put on the Thinking Cap

You know that emoji depicting the little yellow dude's brain exploding? It sits atop my frequent emojis screen because it is the one that most accurately describes what I'm feeling on a daily basis at this stage in my life.

As I trudge through data collection and analysis for my dissertation, I feel like if I lean my head to the side, brain matter will ooze out. Disgusting picture, I know. Trust me, this feeling isn't due to the size of my brain, but rather the fact that more than any point in my life, my brain is exhausted. 

A dissertation is demanding, but so is life in general, our jobs, our families, our friendships, our obligations across the board. Everyone has something. 

Stay with me...I'm going somewhere with this!

One of the best things I've learned in my doctoral program is not some astute research finding, or academic insight, it's a process. The process of thought trials. Thought trials? What the heck is that?
The legend, Dr. Chelladurai
I'm blessed to have one of the foremost researchers in sport management on my dissertation committee, Dr. Pakianathan Chelladurai. He instilled the importance of these sometimes elusive thought trials on day one of my first class.

He described thought trials as an active approach to let your mind conjure up something and actually letting your mind continue down the thought path until it reaches a natural ending point. Think of it as a maze in your head (hold on while I mentally remove the spiderweb that exists there now). 
My kids love these should we.
Ok, so a maze in your head. There are all sorts of different paths, many of which result in dead ends, some of which may not even have an end at all, you may have to exit that maze and start in another one. All of those individual mazes are thought trials. Sometimes you'll reach the end and get the cheese, sometimes you won't. Sometimes an "Ah ha!" moment occurs, more often it does not.
This mouse looks much happier than the one that found the cheese, in the trap, on our front porch. 
The point is, it's not necessarily about the result, it's about the process and practice of allowing your mind to traverse these mazes. It builds a capacity to think about things differently, extend your mind, correct your course, and who knows, even stumble on an inquiry you'd like to explore, a solution to a problem, or even a possible reason why something is happening...this last one underpins the premise of phenomena, hypotheses and theory in the research world.

So how do you do this "thought trial" thing? Well, I'm no expert, but I'll give you the steps that I've found helpful.


2. Sit somewhere quiet and peaceful, like a porch swing, or a park bench (preferably with a cold or hot beverage in hand).

3. Think about something that has captured your interest idea for your family, an opportunity at work, a broader vision you have, a dream, an academic question...this can be anything.

4. Enter the maze, think "why", "how" and "I wonder if..."and let your mind take thoughts on the topic to completion. Go down those rabbit trails, avoid distraction. This sounds weird, but I promise, you can do it. 

5. Next, think about "will what I'm thinking ____?" The blank could be things like "work", "solve the problem", "achieve a goal", etc.

6. Take some notes (NOT on your phone) about what you discover, and just as importantly, what your rule out. 
Here's another good mental image.
The premise of thought trials may seem rudimentary, but our minds need exercise, just like our bodies. I've found at times when I exercise through thought trials - whether for work, personal life, or school - when I need to recall this skill for necessity, it becomes more readily available. Every single person reading this has great ideas, vision and contributions to make, it's time for us to put our minds to work to bring them to fruition!

As Daniel Webster said, "Mind is the great lever of all things; human thought is the process by which human ends are ultimately answered." This is Stoll on Sports. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Elusive Stand-Up Triple

Holy smokes! Nearly a month has gone by and I looked up and realized I hadn't posted. It wasn't for the lack of intention, but thanks to all of you (no one) who asked, I am prompted to get the train back on the tracks. :)

This week's topic is the often-elusive "triple bottom line" of sustainable events.

Many times, those of us grinding away in the sport tourism industry focus predominantly on the economic side of the event we're hosting. It produced a million zillion gajillion dollars in economic impact (cue Dr. Evil, which is what I think of most of the times I hear EI numbers reported).
My point exactly.
Pat yourself on the back, this is all well and good. I'm going to forego the opportunity to jump on my nerd train right here and move on - ask my industry friends that sat through it this week, you don't want to hear it!

Let me take a quick second to urge you to pull back the blinders a little. Instead of stretching out that single (economic impact), how about a double? Or a stand-up triple? Everyone loves a stand-up triple; the crowd always goes wild!

Yes, economic impact, scratch that, financial reporting is important data for analysis, but reaching second base opens the door to a little friend called socio-cultural impact, and landing on third base reveals the lesser discussed, environmental impact.

Ahhh, and there you have it. The stand-up triple of event sustainability.
You're welcome for the highly complex depiction of the triple bottom line.
Socio-cultural aspects of the event often have to do with "the feels"...or the intangible things. Examples may include building community, promoting active lifestyles, volunteerism, social network development, political gain, etc. Think social, cultural, and political capital.

Environmental aspects are pretty self-explanatory, what was the footprint, the benefit (or drawback) to the event had on the community? Us practitioners are hearing more and more about green events and the like.

The triple bottom line concept came about in the early 70's (i.e. Peterson, 1973), but is a trendy topic in sport tourism and event management (i.e. Chalip, 2001, 2006 ; Getz, 2008; Gibson et al., 2012).

"Stoll, why do we care?!" I get it...what's in it for you.

Well, as sport tourism professionals, we are tasked with a unique charge to convey our value to our respective communities, and the communities where we hold events (if a rights holder). This is a big obligation and my contention is that often times we only tell part of the story (our single).

Home boy Pete Rose (aka Charlie Hussle) has the MLB record for singles: 3,215
But, notice I called it the triple bottom line of "SUSTAINABLE" events. My guess is touching the three bases of sustainable events likely coincides with many of our key metrics tracking successful events as well. And we should convey that success to our key constituents.

In our business, marquee, one-off events are great, but many of our destinations either can't accommodate those, or need a balance factor. Sustainable, tried and true, annual events (ala the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction) provide such a ticket, provide risk aversion, and allow a community to use a previously developed wheel. This approach is something to think about in your event portfolio.

As the Great Bambino once said, "Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." True. Implement the three-pronged approach to keep your events sustainable, measure accordingly, and reel in the elusive stand up triple. Heck, you might even turn it into a home run!

This is Stoll on Sports.