NFL Replacement Referees and Lack of Standardized Work

Posted on September 18, 2012 | in Defects, Employee Knowledge, Football, Lean Tools, Lean Wastes, New Ideas, Sports, Standardized Work, Training | by

john fox nfl replacement referee lean blitz consulting collective bargaining agreement lockout

So, NFL, how are these replacement referees working out for you?

Between snagging one off the street who turned out to have significant New Orleans Saints allegiances to the lack of consistency with the playcalling (four timeouts?), the NFL Referees Association (the locked-out union) and its stance with a new collective bargaining agreement are looking pretty strong now, aren’t they?

Even the players are willing to throw money into the pot just so the regular referees can get back to work because the current crop of replacement refs just isn’t cutting the mustard.

This is an example of the need for accuracy, consistency, and capability in standardized work. The NFL has a rulebook that requires lots of study and training on behalf of qualified referees. The rulebook stands as a form of “work instruction” that must be enforced properly and consistently.

Note the difference between “work instruction” and “standardized work.” A work instruction is merely a document that says how a process should operate, but it means nothing if the process isn’t followed. Standardized work means that the users (in this case, the referees) all understand the best practice (which is contained in the work instruction) and follow it because it provides the best opportunity for near-perfect quality and accuracy as well as consistency from one referee to another.

If every referee calls the games in the same way with the same top-level accuracy and quality, then standardized work is in place. However, the NFL’s failure to retain these referees (and their training, experience, and knowledge in following the rulebook properly) means they ran the risk of having all sorts of accuracy and consistency issues.

You play with fire, you get burned.

Can the NFL train these replacement referees up to the level of the locked out union referees? Yes, but the season has already started and the league is behind the 8-ball.

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One Response to “NFL Replacement Referees and Lack of Standardized Work”

  1. Pingback: What Is Standardized Work (And What Is It Not)? | Lean Blitz – Do it better.

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