Sunday, February 7, 2016

Running to the Roar

I love really great coaching. "Love" just might not be a strong enough term for how I feel about great coaching. I like to think I might know a thing or two about good coaching, having officiated football for now over 30 of my 55 years. I get a close look at great, good, marginal and poor.  

Paul Assaiante is the squash coach at Trinity College (Hartford, CT). Paul is a fellow Springfield College alumni, and in my opinion, one of the finest coaches of any sport in the country. His Bantams won 252 straight matches between 2008-2012. His team's have won 15 national championships. No division 1,2 and 3. No BCS. Just the best in the world. Check it out for yourself.

Most coaches, when they meet their team in the beginning of the season, usually talk about team goals and individual goals. That is how the vast majority of coaches at any level, from the NFL to tee ball, kick off the season.

Coach Assaiante asks his players, "what are you afraid of? What's the biggest fear you have? That's what holds you back." He then explains that lions hunt in packs. The oldest lioness can no longer hunt, but has the deepest roar. The pride positions her in the middle of the field, facing the bush. The other lionesses hide in the bush. When she roars, the prey all run from the roar to their deaths. If the prey had run toward their perceived problem, they would have found a "toothless old lady".

I preach to my customers not to "scoreboard watch". Focus on delighting our customer (whomever I hand my work to) and the scoreboard will take care of itself. Forget what our competitors are doing, focus on building excellent stable processes. The scoreboard will take care of itself. 

One of the 4 tenets of the Toyota Production System (and one of the 4 Ps in P4 Lean Strategy) is "make your problems visible and the core of your learning".  Like so many TPS concepts, this one rolls off the tongue, but is very difficult to embrace and implement. This, my friends, is "running to the roar".

Every business has problems. If you don't think so, you just aren't looking. Our culture is one where we like to keep a stiff upper lip. Ego, which is fear based thinking, prevents many from achieving their greatest good. 

Several of my clients have set goals of 250+ A3 closings for this year. Their leaders have set the bar for every single player.  If you look at their A3 boards, you are really looking at the current collection of problems they are making very visible and attacking with temporary, self directed work teams. This is "running to the roar". 

As you probably know, my #1, absolute favorite quote is "if you want results others don't get, you need to be willing to do things others won't do." 

Running to the roar is one of those things.

Best of luck Coach Assiante in pursuit of #16.

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