The Beginning; how SODI was “born”; a meeting with Mike Gillis.

  • In 2012 Richard Wolfe met Mike Gillis, Vancouver Canucks President and GM at the time. Richard’s purpose, as a Business School researcher, was to see how studying sport organizations, the Canucks in this case, could contribute to understanding various types of organizations.
  • Mike had been the NHL’s General Manager of the year in 2011  and General Manager of two Presidents’ Trophy winners (2011 and 2012).
  • The Canucks, under Mike’s leadership, were very innovative; ahead of their time addressing, as examples, the effects of sleep on performance and hyperbolic chambers for injury recovery; under Mike’s leadership the Canucks were also leaders in Sport Science, moreover,
  • Mike advised me that he had just hired a Ph.D. in Sport Science.
  • At that moment, the SODI “seed” was planted. As I remarked to Mike: “A PhD in Organizational Science can contribute as much to the performance of the Canucks as might a Ph.D. in Sport Science—consider the following: ‘how will you see that the Canucks performance whole will be greater than the sum of its many specialized parts’”?

Since the “planting of that seed,” SODI has hosted four very successful Sport & Organizational Dynamics conferences (three at Michigan’s Ross School of Business ; one at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business).

At our conferences we go well beyond analytics and sports science; in fact, we create a competitive edge in team performance by allowing leaders to best leverage analytics and sports science.

As discussed just below, in adapting to the current sport environment, SODI has moved (for the time being) from conferences to virtual seminars.  Our first six session seminar series “Sport Leadership During and Emerging from Crises” ended March 30; our second seminar series, with the same theme, will begin May 25.

SODI and the Current Sport Environment; just as sport leaders must be “dynamic” in dealing with changes in their environments—so too must SODI.  We realize that sport leaders today must lead within an unprecedented, challenging, environment as they face a number of interconnected crises; i.e., Covid-19, Racial and Social Injustice, and a Faltering Economy. 

What had been a truism “the past is the best predictor of the future,” is NO LONGER so. What then is the best predictor of the future given the current environment? We certainly don’t claim “to know.” What we do know, however, is that there are certain leadership approaches and innovative mindsets that will allow leaders to best adapt. In the words of one of our Founders, Bob Quinn, leaders must be prepared to “Build the Bridge as They Walk on It.”

We facilitate “Building the Bridge” over the very turbulent waters facing sport leaders. We present systematic, research based best-practices in leadership and innovation via interactive presentations, panel and group discussion and pragmatic, implementation guidelines necessary to succeed in the current challenging context.