Business of Sports, Cont.

Picking up from last week on W. Edwards Deming…

We’re constantly hearing sports terms and metaphors used in business communications. Sooo, certified, card-carrying contrarian that I am, I thought it would be fun — yet instructive — to apply what The Deming Institute lists as Deming’s “14 key principles for management to follow for significantly improving the effectiveness of a business or organization” to a professional sports setting/environment.

Next point:

  1. Institute modern methods of training on the job

Unfortunately, in recent years this has too often meant performance-enhancing drugs. Weight and strength training are a big part of sports, but slow-motion photography, intensive film study, and speed training are too. League rules try to limit the amount of training, but what pro would risk missing a voluntary mini-camp?

  1. Institute modern methods of supervision and leadership

The media is quick to criticize a “touchy-feely” coach and loves to report on invective-filled half-time speeches. Recent comments about a noted pro coach after he moved to the college ranks made me wonder if today’s players respond to Old School screaming. I sure wouldn’t enjoy that work environment.

  1. Drive out fear

Few players are assured of roster spots. All players fear career ending injury. No matter how reassuring management might try to be, I can’t see fear going away in professional sports. This is something many of us relate to; I kept a box under my desk the entire seven years I worked at one company. The culture was such that any day could be your last. It was not an effective motivational tool.

  1. Break down barriers between departments

In football, for example, nothing seems to destroy team chemistry faster than the defense calling out the offense; Chicago Bears fans will agree with me. Indeed, thanks to “All Sports” 24/7 radio stations a player can quickly become a “clubhouse cancer” by being a bit too candid in his evaluation of another player’s efforts or abilities. The same thing in fact happens in the workplace, but seldom makes the local newspaper or anything like a 24/7 “All Work” radio talk show.

  1. Eliminate numerical goals for the work force

This is never going to happen in a statistics-driven, never-ending news cycle. Fantasy leagues need stats and they are probably trying to develop statistics for additional positions right now. Player contracts have incentives tied to numbers (performance). I have always thought this to be one of Deming’s weaker arguments and have found goal-based bonuses to work well when fairly enforced.

Coming next: Final points 11–14.

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.