While this is slightly old news now that the college football season comes to a close tonight with the BCS Championship Game, the University of Notre Dame football team experienced an opportunity where using lean would certainly come in handy.
From ESPN.com…way back in November:
“Notre Dame is doing a deep clean of its meeting rooms and weight room after several players came down with bad cases of the flu. Captain Harrison Smith needed an IV on Friday night, and defensive end Stephon Tuitt missed Saturday’s game because he was so sick. ‘We’re on full alert because we’ve had so many guys affected by this at this point,’ (Coach Brian) Kelly said.”
The concept of “deep clean” can be found in lean and autonomous management. It implies bringing something (a machine, a kitchen, a locker room, anything) back to basic conditions. Basic conditions is essentially “as good as new” or “as close to new as possible” state. After days, weeks, and even years of being out of basic conditions (dirty, broken, temporary fixes like duct tape, etc), doing a deep clean means doing a full cleaning of everything and fixing/updating all anomalies (things that are broken or non-functional).
But that’s not the key takeaway here. A deep clean shouldn’t just be about bringing everything back to basic conditions – it should also be about keeping it there too!
When properly administering a deep clean, the managers (whomever would be tasked with keeping everything clean and up-to-date) should also be creating “standards” for what is clean vs. what is not, and a standard cleaning process so that everything is kept clean at all times (within reason).
In the past when I’ve managed deep cleans of equipment, we created cleaning standards that consisted of a “dirty” picture and a “clean” picture of key areas. Dirty is unacceptable and clean is our target. Whenever the cleaning process is completed, the key area should look just like the clean picture. Depending on what all is being cleaned/maintained, there might be many standards created.
The second item that should be created is a standard process for cleaning. To create this process, the following questions should be asked:
The idea is not that everyone should always be busy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s important to maintain the basic conditions – really, who wants a nasty, smelly, dirty locker room? – but what can be done to have to clean less often or with less effort so that it gets easier to maintain the basic condition?
Autonomous management and basic condition is not just about keeping clean and up-to-date. It’s also about preventing breakdowns, such as what the University of Notre Dame football team suffered with ill players. Let’s do a reverse five-whys analysis to see the problem.
It should be noted that the school realized the epidemic spreading through the locker room and took the initiative to rectify the problem. The University of Notre Dame certainly takes great pride in providing state-of-the-art facilities, and went above and beyond to make sure their student-athletes were no longer in harm’s way. What the school should take away from the experience is how to prevent this epidemic from occurring again if they can by applying a standardized process for maintaining the locker room/weight room.
Doing a deep clean can be hard, but performing it correctly and creating the proper process afterward means a) not having to redo the deep clean again later and wasting valuable time, and b) preventing major breakdowns and catastrophes.
(Locker room photo courtesy of stadium.nd.edu)