It’s December 31st. The very last day of the calendar year of 2012. Seeing how it’s the very last 1/366th of the year’s existence, and just like every other thing (person/website/news show/etc) out there is doing, let’s do a Lean Blitz blog recap of 2012, only bigger!
And by “bigger” I actually mean “2012 + the last little chunk of 2011.”
When Lean Blitz Consulting and the blog were originally created, the focus was on what happens outside the lines – the business processes in the front office, facility management, and a genuine focus on the consumer’s needs – and on small businesses. The 14 Principles from The Toyota Way are applicable to all types of companies, small and large, but sports organizations are essentially like small businesses with a very unique offering – an experience – for sale.
However, there is a LOT of activity between the lines that can be impacted by applying Lean principles.
The first article where I stretched Lean applications to impacting on-field results was with the flu virus spreading through the University of Notre Dame football locker room last season. Activities off the field (or possible lack of proper cleaning activities) could have directly impacted the success of the team on the field, an impact traced using the five-whys technique for root cause analysis (unclean equipment = sick players = absent starters = team underperformance = game loss = lesser bowl game = smaller financial payout).
I covered a lot of business processes at the 2012 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, but I also hit upon a scorecard issue that could have dramatically affected the tournament’s results. An inefficient process in the office could have taken Luke Donald under.
Probably my favorite post I wrote this year, and one that certainly stirred up some degree of controversy, was about Major League Baseball’s pace of play. I received feedback far and wide from this article, from folks who were directly involved in the process (such as the San Francisco Giants’ former PA announcer) to fans who were jumping to conclusions about how the actual rules of the game that impact strategy should be altered (to which I’m fundamentally opposed). I even had a conversation with Joe Garagiola, Jr., the the senior vice president of standards and on-field operations for Major League Baseball. He provided a lot of explanations and clarity about the holes in the process I questioned. An update to this blog post is long overdue, where I share what Mr. Garagiola shared with me.
The blog post that generated the most traffic was the creation of on-stage personalized jerseys for the new draftees at this year’s NFL Draft. I pulled together information from multiple sources discussing how unique and novel this made the experience for the draftees and the viewers, but in reality by applying just-in-time principles and minimal jersey inventories it wasn’t that complicated.
When LeanBlog.org‘s Mark Graban saw the post, he recommend I share it with Paul Lukas at Uni-Watch. I did…and the exposure was phenomenal. Big thanks to Mark and to Paul for helping spread the potential simplicity and novelty of using Lean principles!
One post I wrote that discussed a problem that would have an immediate direct affect on a game wasn’t even written for Lean Blitz – it was a guest blog post for Lean Blog. Failure of standards at a Chinese baseball manufacturer created an offensive explosion in this summer’s collegiate wood bat leagues. The blog post was picked up and picked apart by sabermetricians at Baseball Think Factory, which is pretty cool (aside from being told I’m wrong).
Other big things/events/concepts covered:
The Lean Blitz blog has gotten some nice pieces of publicity at ESPN.com (here and here), through LeanBlog.org, through Ben’s Biz Blog for Minor League Baseball, and from Matt Wrye at Beyond Lean. I’ve also received a lot of emails from their readers about Lean in sports, and to everyone who has come by my little corner of the internet I am grateful.
It’s been a lot of fun to write articles that help connect Lean principles and Kaizen mindsets to a different industry, but even more fun to know that it’s well-received and I’m not totally off my rocker.
I will continue to churn out posts in 2013 because, clearly, sports and small businesses have a long way to go with learning about Lean.