Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lean Thinking & the National Football League

It’s NFL football season!

What does Lean have to do with football?

It's all the same.

Football teams begin training camp with the fundamentals: blocking & tackling.

Lean does the same -- we begin with Standards & Stability.

Good NFL coaches consider variations on standard plays -- only after the team has internalized the basics.

In Lean transformations, too often people jump to advanced Lean concepts without a deep understanding of Standards & Stability. True mastery takes years of practice & reflection. Leaders who put in the effort send a powerful message to their teams. ("I'm a student too. I'm in this for the long term. Let's learn together...")

A few years ago I had the pleasure of sharing a plane with the Green Bay Packers coaching staff. (I sat between James Campen, Offensive Line coach, and Lionel Aldridge, Defensive Secondary coach. Good, smart, cordial guys.)

I asked plenty of questions about their work. They asked plenty of questions about Lean. I was struck by the similarities. In fact, Lean fundamentals like visual management, 5 S and standardized work are "normal" in the NFL. You can't compete without them.

Advanced Lean activities like Strategy Deployment are also normal.

More on that in later posts.



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