Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Life in the Press Box

Life in the Press Box

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
– Wayne Gretzky, great hockey player.

College football is my favorite sport, among several, that I enjoy. (Basically, what I know about hockey is in the above quote.) Saturdays, when the Red Raiders are in town, you will find me at Jones AT&T Stadium.

The offensive coordinator is one of the “Big 3” (head coach, defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator). Generally, the offensive coordinator sits in the press box high above the field – Texas Tech’s offensive coordinator, Zach Kittley, is an exception as he prefers to be on the sidelines during the game.

Why is the offensive coordinator generally perched up high above the action? The answer is obvious, of course – to gain an overview of the situation.

The person charged with a leadership role (I know that many readers of this column are leaders), must climb up into the press box, so to speak, to gain perspective on the situation to try to determine what works, what moves are likely to fail, which ones have the best chances of success.  Leadership books describe this as “big picture” thinking. To try to go to where the puck is going to be. Most people can see where the puck is (or has been)… but, to see where it is going.  That is where magic happens.

Think back to the pandemic. There were certain things that we (I am speaking of the entire leadership group) could see developing and took actions to address. Before the introduction of home test kits, we knew that people needed tests. Someone suggested a drive-through testing center under the porte-cochere on the north side of the building. It was done. Worked out great.  It saved a lot of time, limited exposure of infectious people to others (by avoiding them having to come into our building), and saved on personal protective equipment (PPE).

Speaking of PPE  it is another example. When we looked at the big picture and could see we faced a shortage of PPE, several action steps were put in place. We identified new sources, talked with contacts at other universities, set up a perpetual inventory system, and established our own mini-warehouse (affectionately called “The Stash”).

Someone suggested we make our own face masks to give to patients and visitors, at a time of severe mask shortage. After a few tries, we had a small assembly line going with two teenagers making simple masks out of folded two-ply paper towels and rubber bands (under the watchful eye of the mother of one of them, who happens to have a doctorate in nursing and works for us). Were the masks elegant? No, but if a person is spewing droplets next to me, I like the idea of a double-ply folded paper towel being over that person’s mouth and nose.

Someone noticed that we needed a way to schedule our employees who volunteered to help at the City of Lubbock Health Department’s vaccination center. A software package was quickly established, open to all, where employees could self-schedule when they wished to volunteer. City officials praised its utility.

Looking at the big picture from up high paid off. Furthermore, some of the best ideas we implemented came from folks in the trenches, who were doing the work, but were seeing things from a higher vantage point. May that tribe multiply!

Have a great week!