W.Edward Deming’s quality management system was credited with resurrecting and changing Japan’s manufacturing economy after World War II. Experts think it was what finally made Japanese cars acceptable in export markets. After enduring dozens of sports analogy filled business speeches I decided to turn things around and apply Deming’s famous 14 points to professional sports. This is the third and final installment.
Eliminate work standards and numerical goals
“We just play to win” sounds great in the post game news conference but the conversations quickly changes to statistics and trends. The rise of analytics as shown in Money Ball is opposed by many yet appears to be inevitable. Gone are the days when a manager could get away with defending a strike out because “at least he didn’t hit into a double play.” I believe you have to have good metrics and remember with pride the day I first “made rate.”
Remove barriers to pride in workmanship
Here is a point sports teams don’t have a problem with; team captains and media scrutiny are always there to chastise a lazy outfielder or a wide receiver who “takes a play off.” In the shops where I have worked, public abuse of scrap producers could be equally brutal. Peer pressure works great here.
Institute a vigorous program of education and training for everyone.
Remember when professional athletes had time for part time work? Off seasons are now packed with weight lifting, mandatory meetings, voluntary work outs, and promotional appearances. Careers tend to be shorter now so
retired athletes, at least those without giant contracts, have the looming specter a “real job” to deal with. Not everyone can simply move over to ESPN. Gear companies are finding high quality training options through AGMA and Gear Technology magazine.
Create a structure in top management that will push every day on the above 14 points.
After watching Money Ball and Draft Day, it is difficult to imagine team management having the time to actually worry about something like the 14 points, Finding players, watching film, developing a game plan, getting to the game, and finally playing the game consume every waking hour. You constantly worry about something left undone. In other words, a lot like working at a gear company. Just a few less zeros on the paychecks and no 24/7 media attention.