10 OM Decisions: Rebuilding the Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks                                                       Win Stanley Cup

In 2004, “ESPN named the Blackhawks as the worst franchise in all of professional sports” (English).  So how did the Chicago Blackhawks go from one of the worst teams in the NHL to one of the best? While reading several articles, the answer became apparent to me: they made alterations in their operations management (OM). It suddenly became clear how easily operations management can be linked back to almost any topic. I became in engrossed in finding out exactly which OM decisions were made that resulted in this significant change.

In 2007, owner of the Blackhawks, Bill Wirtz, passed away leaving his son, Rocky Wirtz, in charge of this franchise. Rocky wanted to correct his father’s mistakes and was dedicated to make this change happen; “He wanted to get Chicago back on the Blackhawks’ side.” (English). First, he made job position changes by signing John McDonough (president) and Stan Bowman (Vice President). He began to build a new team of individuals all devoted to a resurgence of the Blackhawks. From there, changing the coaching and players came next.

Ultimately, he wanted to “re-brand” the Blackhawks experience for the fans who had lost faith in the franchise. To make this possible, he renovated the United Center; he added more entertainment outside of the arena so no matter where you were sitting, you would be having the same level of enjoyment. By partnering with the White Sox and WGN, he was able to bring back televised home games. Fans were getting excited about the team again. By adopting his method of “long term thinking”, he was able to create the change this franchise needed.

Why is this related to Operations Management? By looking at the 10 OM decisions one can pin point how Wirtz was able make this change happen.

The Strategic Decisions:

  1. Design of goods and services
  2. Managing quality
  3. Process and capacity design
  4. Location strategy
  5. Layout strategy
  6. Human resources and job design
  7. Supply-chain management
  8. Inventory management
  9. Scheduling
  10. Maintenance

These strategic decisions reflect the alterations made in the Blackhawks. Designing services is seen through the signing in new players and changing the coaching, while wanting to create the best experience for their fans is an example of managing quality. By adding services and a new design to the United Center, Wirtz was catering to the desires of their customers. His consideration of costs, logistics, technology, and “flow of materials, people, and information” is an example of their location and layout strategy. He demonstrated human resources and job design decisions by employing motivated individuals dedicated to his mission. These are just a few of the multiple operations management decisions that were implemented while rebuilding the Blackhawks.

I believe this is an excellent example of how operations management can be a great tool to improve a struggling organization. The definition of operations management is “the set of activities that create value in the form of goods and services by transforming inputs into outputs” (Heizer & Render). Wirtz was able to create value in the Blackhawks by changing the players, coaching, and the building. By altering these inputs, the output that resulted was this new Blackhawks team that is better than ever before. This turnaround of the Blackhawks has brought back to the fans the sense of pride and devotion to hockey.  Now it is almost impossible to walk down a street in Chicago without seeing a piece of Blackhawks merchandise. It is safe to say that Rocky Wirtz accomplished what he set out to do.

What do you think about employing these operation management decisions to “rebuild” a franchise? Can you think of any other organizations/companies that similarly had to change their business approach?



Heizer, Jay, and Barry Render. Principles of Operations Management. Upper Saddle River. 2013. Print.




The Era of Panera

Panera Bread Case Study

The food industry definitely has its struggles as a workplace.  However, can’t that be said about any job position?  I have realized that it all depends on the quality of management.  As a new employee of Panera Bread, I am proud to praise the company and the leadership it offers.  Their strategic decisions and success in hiring passionate, yet qualified operation managers, makes it easy to relate everything learned in class.

In chapter one, we were given a list of 10 strategic decisions of operations management to ponder:

1.  Design of goods and services

2.  Managing quality

3.  Process and capacity design

4.  Location strategy

5.  Layout strategy

6.  Human resources and job design

7.  Supply-chain management

8.  Inventory management

9.  Scheduling

10.  Maintenance

When I think Panera Bread, I think strategy success.  The restaurant layout, quality food, and design of service are only three of the tactful ways Panera remains popular among the community.  The environment strives for a homey feel–using all of the senses to engage one in its comfortability.  For example, the aroma of freshly baked bread captures the sensation of one’s own kitchen.  As the foremost important attribute to the restaurant, bread is baked to quality every night to satisfy customers.  In addition, handpicked employees are chosen to complete the overall sincere and warm-hearted experience.

The hiring process, itself, had given me reason to believe that Panera’s operations were organized and safely developed.  They cared so much about finding people who fit into the beliefs of the corporation.  Even as the ‘new girl’ I was surprised how many people made me feel welcomed with a simple introduction.  Also, the pride and carefulness in training was a process I had never gone through–even though I had previously worked in the food industry.  The procedure first began with a group interview, which later led to a one-on-one.  This allowed the managers to see how each interviewee reacted within a crowd, as well as getting to know them personally. Once receiving confirmation of making the team, an event known as, Plan a Bread, must be attended.  It would inform workers of the company’s background and intended goals.  Then, hours of e-learning videos and quizzes continued the process.  Next was the physical training.  Here I would take on different responsibilities to contribute to Panera’s service–cashier, barista, back-of-house, and food production.  This would take weeks.  Even with training completed, the learning never stopped.  Each season, a ‘bread bash’ is held.  This mandatory meeting gathers up all of the employees within a location.  The objective of the meeting is to inform everyone about new menu additions and give them a little taste.

This is a perfect example of a company who cares not only about service and food, but about its family of employees.  Doing their best to have knowledgeable workers who know what they are a part of, Panera’s organized management creates a warm environment for all to enjoy.  Now knowing of the process that happens behind the scenes at Panera Bread, do you agree or disagree that they hold a smooth operation?