Lean Blog: Sports cover page

Lean Blog: Sports

Lean Blog: Sports

Lean Concepts in Sports and Lean Lessons from the Sports World

Posts at the intersection of Lean Thinking and Sports...

Lean Blog: Sports Edit
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About the Book

This e-Book is a collection of posts from Mark Graban's LeanBlog.org that focus on Lean concepts found in professional and college sports, as well as Lean lessons from players, coaches, and other leaders that can be applied in our own workplaces.

The posts have been freshly edited and updated, with updated links and new reflections being added at the end of some posts. Content has been organized into sections for different sports: baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and miscellaneous.

What can David Stern and the NBA, Rex Ryan of the New York Jets, and the Atlanta Braves teach us about Lean leadership? What can we learn about Lean by observing the beer concession stands or other stadium operations? What does a missing Olympic hockey puck teach us about problem solving? Read this book to find out.

The book is the equivalent of 220 pages in paperback form.

Last updated January 2014.

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • What is Lean?
    • About this Compilation
  • 1 Baseball
    • 1.1 The Culture of Winning — Baseball and Lean
    • 1.2 Standard Work for Baseball Umpires??
    • 1.3 Long-Term vs Short-Term in Sports
    • 1.4 Safety, Quality (Starts), Delivery (to the Plate), and Coaches
    • 1.5 Waste in the New Yankee Stadium Layout?
    • 1.6 Washington “Natinals” Error
    • 1.7 World Series Defect: Wrong Pitcher
    • 1.8 ‘Moneyball’ Lessons – Listen to Your Front-Line Staff
    • 1.9 Blame the Stanford Kicker! Blame the Kicker?
    • 1.10 A Lean Guy Watches Moneyball
    • 1.11 Guest Post: Talking Lean at the Baseball Winter Meetings
    • 1.12 Failure to Follow Process Leads to NL MVP’s Suspension Being Overturned
    • 1.13 Robert Andino of the Baltimore Orioles & Dr. W. Edwards Deming
    • 1.14 Guest Post: Lacking Baseball Specs Leads to Offensive Explosion (and MLB Scouting Problems)
    • 1.15 Stephen Strasburg & the Washington Nationals – Long Term vs. Short Term
  • 2 Football
    • 2.1 Lack of Clear Visual Controls and Training in the NFL
    • 2.2 NFL Kaizen
    • 2.3 Lessons from Northwestern Football
    • 2.4 How Much of Football is VA?
    • 2.5 Learning from Super Bowl Coaches
    • 2.6 The Cost of Unsold Uniform Inventory
    • 2.7 The Patriots are like Toyota?
    • 2.8 Sunday Night Muda
    • 2.9 The Sun Devil Suggestion System
    • 2.10 “Not Conducive to Suggestions”
    • 2.11 American-Made Footballs in the Super Bowl
    • 2.12 Reducing the Waste of Waiting in the NFL Draft
    • 2.13 A Funny Example of Not Delivering “Value”?
    • 2.14 Another Uniform Inventory Story
    • 2.15 Taking Responsibility for Mistakes – On the Field, and Off
    • 2.16 More Proof that Exhortations Don’t Work?
    • 2.17 Great Piece on the Failings of Incentives
    • 2.18 One Purple Audacious Goal…
    • 2.19 Jerry Jones is NOT a Lean Thinker, Apparently?
    • 2.20 Only 11 Minutes of Value in an NFL Game?
    • 2.21 Safety First – Even at a Northwestern Football Game?
    • 2.22 Individual NFL Player Incentives – Why Are They Necessary? Do They Distort the Game?
    • 2.23 Super Bowl Footballs – Made in America (Ohio!)
    • 2.24 Coach Vince Lombardi on Striving for Perfection
    • 2.25 So What If You Don’t Have Stats for Offensive Lineman?
    • 2.26 “Like Lean” – NY Jets Coach Rex Ryan
    • 2.27 Coaching, not Berating, when Mistakes are Made
    • 2.28 BCS & College Football Coaches Poll Shenanigans – Bad Voters or Bad System?
    • 2.29 Visiting and Teaching at Ohio State – Meeting Archie Griffin, Reflecting on Values and Winning
    • 2.30 Alabama Coach Nick Saban - National Champion & Lean Thinker?
    • 2.31 Error Proofing an NFL Coach
    • 2.32 Rob Gronkowski’s Back Surgery and Post-Op Infections
    • 2.33 Denver Bronco Loses Touchdown for Not Following Standardized Work
  • 3 Basketball
    • 3.1 The NBA Not Involving Its Employees?
    • 3.2 NBA Listens to Employees
    • 3.3 NBA’s David Stern on Listening
    • 3.4 Bad Systems in the News: NBA
    • 3.5 “Bad Systems in the News” Update
    • 3.6 Lean Elements in NCAA Hoops?
    • 3.7 NVA in the NBA — It’s “Value Added”-tastic?
    • 3.8 Leadership Thoughts from Late Great Detroit Pistons
    • 3.9 Are Slogans Always Bad or Can They Inspire?
    • 3.10 NBA Has Learned Its Lesson?
    • 3.11 Do Good Coaches Brush Off Feedback from the Team as Whining?
    • 3.12 Standardized, but Not Identical – College Basketballs
  • 4 Hockey
    • 4.1 Suboptimizing the New NHL Uniforms?
    • 4.2 NHL Backing Off like the NBA Did?
    • 4.3 How the Gold Medal Puck Was Almost Lost
    • 4.4 No Joke: Lean Methods Applied by a Hockey Coach in Ontario
    • 4.5 Learning to See (and Spell) in the NHL
  • 5 Miscellaneous Sports
    • 5.1 Quick Changeover for American Airlines Center
    • 5.2 Not following the “Standard” lets an athlete off the hook?
    • 5.3 Changing Glass vs. Pouring a Glass
    • 5.4 I’d Like to “5S” the Wimbledon TV Broadcast Screen
    • 5.5 Matthew May’s Encounter with Tiger & Goals of Perfection
    • 5.6 Guest Post: Finding Waste at the Stadium
  • Mark Graban
    • Mark Graban’s LeanPub Books:
    • Mark Graban’s Traditionally Published Books:

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About the Author

About the Contributors


Chad Walters

Chad Walters is the founder of Lean Blitz Consulting, a Dayton, Ohio-based firm focused on providing education, development, and implementation of lean methodologies to sports organizations and small businesses. Chad is an ASQ-certified Six Sigma Black Belt that has worked with the Atlanta Braves, South Bend Silver Hawks, Eaton Corporation, and The Dannon Company on continuous improvement and other forms of strategic development. Check out his blog…

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