Every now and again even the best of journalists dredge up a sports metaphor or two to liven up otherwise flaccid prose. Sometimes the sports analogy is highly appropriate.

This month’s cover story — “Give Me an ‘H’!” — takes off on a unique intercollegiate event officially titled “The Big Ten Building Services Administrators Conference,” dubbed by many of the attendees as an experience exchange, where building services managers from throughout the Big Ten university system gather to pick one another’s brains. Ancient sports and academic rivalries, in this case, don’t get in the way of intercollegiate critical brainstorming at the facilities management level.

What we have here is a classic example of — yes, I’m going to say it: team play.

The reality is that successful sports teams have a lot in common with successful business operations. Vince Lombardi (here I go again) once said in one of his lesser-publicized quotes:

“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” And, as more and more organizations turn to their facilities for solutions to pressing business problems, how buildings are designed, managed and cleaned takes on a significance that wasn’t apparent a decade or two ago.

The Big Ten event gave us unprecedented access to a number of building services professionals throughout the Midwest. We were able to share some of the critical thinking that defines this event and, for that matter, facilities operations everywhere.