Design Thinking and other lessons learned from a hockey legend


Anatoli Tarasov is considered “the father of Russian Hockey.” He transformed the “Soviet Union National Team” into a formable and dominant force in hockey.

Tarasov developed the Russian style of play that was a highly intricate and flowing approach that focused on puck possession and teamwork rather than brute force and individual achievement. He focused on developing “the speed of the mind.” The team practiced speed with many instantaneous read/react decisions. This became their comfort zone. They prepared by what some have called overspeed training by practicing all conceivable scenarios, skills and decision-making at a pace that is faster than comfortable.

This concept is very similar to the development of the integration of simulation skills in medical and nursing education. Healthcare professionals are prepared in simulation scenarios to make quick decisions and think critically on the spot in a clinical setting.

In addition, Tarasov integrated elements from ballet and chess and put players through rigorous and unorthodox training rituals. Chess trained players to think ahead and using offense and defense strategy against their opponents. Tarasov also immersed himself into ballet and sought to bring the emotion, aesthetic mindset, and smooth coordination on to the ice. The integration of the arts also developed cohesiveness within the players to create a truly dedicated team with commitment. This methodology built fluid teams that moved at a pace no opponent could match.

Education, the corporate world, and sports are recognizing the benefits of integrating the visual arts. It combines the right-brain imagination with left-brain logic. Whole-brain creativity and innovation can generate ideas, build trust, find shared values, and shift perceptions. Visual literacy is to become literate in a visual language and the communication of knowledge and it is to understand and create ways to represent ideas and concepts. Another form of visual literacy is design thinking. It is a process to solve problems visually coupled with empathy and meaningfulness.

Tarasov taught us the benefits of taking a multidiscipline approach to solving problems and building skills. The arts do indeed have a place as a common thread that is woven throughout the learning process whether it is in sports, education, or industry. Taratov also manifested overspeed to focus on speed with calculated and anticipated results. Being prepared was his mantra to excel with success on the ice and expand ones comfort zone to expect the unexpected. A multiplicity of on ice scenarios and analysis provide visual and sensory input not provided in face to face training. This is true of nursing and medical human patient simulation. Human patient simulation that presents uncommon critical scenarios provides the opportunity of deep critical thinking to preparing for the real scenario.