Monday, February 7, 2022

Nick Saban on the Power of Process Thinking

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

PDCA – because it’s all too clear, it’s difficult

Here’s the great coach Nick Saban on University of Alabama football team’s success

“We’ve set up an organizational process, so that each person knows what they have to do during the week minute by minute… the players, the coaches.”

“We don’t talk a lot about winning. We talk a lot about what you have to do to play your best on a consistent basis.”

“We focus on a high standard of consistency…and understanding [we’ve] never arrived.”

The fundamentals – PDCA, process thinking, continuous improvement, total involvement are ‘simple’.

So simple that they’re hard. I’m not very good at PDCA, process thinking and the rest. (Like most people, I find it easier to jump to countermeasures and wing it in general.)

Like a number of Toyota alumni, for decades now I’ve relied on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual routine, to keep me on track. I’m simply trying to apply the practices very patient senseis taught me.

At best I partially succeed, but the effort makes all the difference. The process continually highlights hot spots, shortcomings & opportunities for improvement.

In my experience, terrific organizations, whether in business or sports, aren’t perfect. (They’re human after all.)

But they’re acutely aware of their imperfections & constantly try to improve. Of course, Lean methods are essential in making these opportunities visible.

But Lean methods are always in the service of this engine, this heart-muscle.

If I may suggest, Mr. Saban would find TPS culture simpatico, and would feel entirely at home in a Toyota factory or design studio.

My sense is we have an innate understanding of these things. (In the attached clip, the ESPN analysts certainly seem to understand what Coach Saban is saying.)

The challenge (speaking for myself) is to overcome our innate laziness, trickiness and dislike of standards. The challenge is to thereby learn & apply the fundamentals for the greater good.

The more successful and powerful we become, the easier it is to ignore them. (Power is the power to do stupid things, no?)

At this point in his career, Coach Saban can do pretty much whatever he wants to do, including ignoring the fundamentals.

But like all great senseis, he continues to practice and teach the ‘right way’. (Until he dies, I suspect.)



In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Lean and the Martial Arts
Daily PDCA is a Meditation
Ethics Again
Lean/TPS in the Public Service – Part 3 – Obstacles & Countermeasures?

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