Stuff I’m Reading – August 8, 2012

Posted on August 8, 2012 | in 2012 Summer Olympics, Baseball, Lean Wastes, Small Business, Sports, Toyota Way | by

Jeff Gordon NASCAR Pocono Car Dupont 24 Lean Blitz Consulting Race Sprint Cup

There are ample opportunities for performance improvement in sports business and small business operations that I simply can’t get to it all as issues occur day after day. In addition, the attention these situations receive is minimized by the focus given to the 2012 Summer Olympics going on right now.

Mimicking the format used by Mark Graban at, here are some of the things I’ve been reading lately that are relevant to the end goals of lean and continuous improvement – namely, answering “What is the problem we’re trying to solve?” and identifying opportunities to reduce waste activities and other forms of inefficiencies.

– This is a pretty clever yet accurate depiction of the issues we Americans are facing when we want to watch the Olympics live. NBC is not making it easy for us. I linked to it in my analysis of why NBC is dropping the ball on maximizing viewer happiness while also maximizing advertising dollars but wanted to share it again.

– Golf is seeing a boost in the use of a long putter style called a “belly putter” that anchors (well, presses against) a player’s belly during the putting motion. Many professional golfers are at odds about the legality or advantages gained by using such a device. The putter styles across all golfers is not uniform, but it’s also questionable as to the suggested “advantage” gained for those who use the anchoring style. As technology changes the rules will change accordingly in order to maintain a level playing field, but by permitting the belly putter is the PGA opening a door to unfair advantages?

Jeff Gordon won the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Pocono Raceway this past Sunday, but the real focus is on the lightning strikes close to the track that killed one fan and injured nine others. NASCAR officials are taking time to evaluate the weather safety policy and procedures to see if there is a need to modify it to maximize the safety of the fans and the drivers.

The incident raised the question of whether the race should have been called earlier to give the track time to evacuate the stands and everyone enough time to reach the safety of their cars or shelter.

This is a solid opportunity for NASCAR to establish some set specifications under which their events will operate, as well as demonstrate for the public what the organization’s priorities will be (safety of the fans vs. competitive and intriguing product on the track).

Perhaps my favorite business (marketing/entrepreneurship) writer is Seth Godin. He has a fantastic daily blog, to which I highly recommend subscribing. He has two recent blog posts that I think really demonstrate how lean can help drive your marketing efforts: one is about improving your marketing by improving your product (or fan experience at a sporting event), and the other is about taking the extra step to show your fans and buyers of your brand extra love.

– Going back to the question “What is the problem we’re trying to solve?” the MLB’s Miami Marlins thought they had the answers to maximizing revenues and building interest in the team: build a new, extravagant ballpark (with taxpayer money), and make a big splash in player free agency by signing superstars like relief pitcher Heath Bell and shortstop Jose Reyes so that the team on the field would win lots of games. The team banked on the new (and expensive) players to generate wins and the new ballpark to drive attention, which would drive attendance, which drives revenue, which makes it possible for the team to pay for those hefty salaries.

Unfortunately things have not worked out so well this season for the Marlins. The team is 50-60 on the year, 17 games out of first place in the NL East. The new (and expensive) stadium is falling well short of capacity, and the team has already traded players like Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, and Anibal Sanchez and essentially waving the white flag. The heart of the problem, though, is the breaking down of public trust in the team management after years of being misled. The article explains the management problem far better than I can.

– My college classmate Thad Greiner has a blog about Sunfish sailing in Michigan and he wrote a post about how he organized the storage of his sailboat parts in his garage. A simple solution to implement provides significant organizational relief.

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One Response to “Stuff I’m Reading – August 8, 2012”

  1. my2fish says:

    thanks for the link to my blog.

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