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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.