This month, ASQ CEO Paul Borawski pointed out that the application of quality, while traditionally found in the manufacturing industry, really has a place in every industry and he was curious to see how quality tools and concepts were being used outside of manufacturing.
It is my belief that for almost two years this blog has been identifying ways for athletics organizations – teams on the field, business units off the field and behind the scenes, and partnerships cultivated outside of the stadiums – to apply quality concepts in order to function optimally. In addition, there are many instances where those silos end up impacting one another.
First, we start with the basic premise that athletics organizations are small businesses with unique product offerings. A traditional small business and a sports organization will employ small staffs of employees, some of whom are considered temporary labor. They feature typical business functions like operations, maintenance, marketing, accounting, finance, human resources, supply chains, logistics, and so forth.
We also recognize that all businesses have processes – some add value, some not so much. Just as a small business has processes that add value for customers, sports organizations have business processes. Inherent in all business processes are elements of inefficiency.
That’s where quality concepts are applicable – we can use quality to improve those processes and optimize the customer experience through Lean, Six Sigma, training, defect reduction, root cause analysis, acting on customer feedback, and so on.
How are customers directly impacted by poor quality with sports organizations?
– Stockouts of merchandise of their favorite player’s jersey
– Slow-moving concessions lines due to poor employee training, untested technology, and facility layout
– Safety concerns resulting from poor cooking processes in concessions
– Overselling of game tickets because of technology issues
– Traffic flow into and out of parking lots
– Defective merchandise
– Filthy stadiums
Poor quality can also find roots in the partnership between off-the-field and on-the-field activities.
– Poor cleaning conditions in locker rooms could have impacts on player availability (MRSA outbreak)
– Bad risks in taking on players with questionable character
– Improperly-set equipment impacts Olympics results
– The Penn State University football fiasco
– Organization of stadium color-outs
– Football concussions research and taking care of former players
– Use of outdated communications technology meant a Denver Broncos player had to be cut
– Lack of manufacturing specifications overseas meant a design change in baseball production, leading to a spike in offense
So how has quality concepts and thought made a positive impact on athletics?
– The 2012 NFL Draft was special for first round draft picks
– There was alignment (accidental or not) between the 2012 Notre Dame football team and the 14 Principles of The Toyota Way
– Augusta National Golf Club does a wonderful job with the customer experience at The Masters
– Major League Baseball has taken steps to increase the pace of the game, but they still have a way to go
Unfortunately, the sports industry tends to be the slowest when it comes to implementing new business ideologies. As a result, the industry remains ripe with opportunities for improving the partnership with customers.
I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.