I recently agreed to coach our 5th & 6th grade boys basketball team at school. Interestingly enough I have found many similarities between coaching the team to implementing a “quality mindset” in an organization.
Below is a brief mental note on the relationship:
1) Involvement by the leadership (crucial in establishing the “Vision” of how you want the team to function and establishing the “Need”.
2) The “Why” – The reasons why the team or organization needs to strive to learn and become better. A “united front” works well and also provides the WIIFM (What’s in it for me)
3) Measure the “before and after” state – very important in both an organization as well as a youth basketball team. Both need to be able to see what degree of progress is being made in simple yet functional areas (example – operating costs or ability to ability to shoot a foul shot)
4) Train everyone – I love the “TRAIN-DO-TRAIN-DO” approach. This simply means show a small digestible amount of new crucial tasks or skills, then follow it up with some hands on application so the value can be seen and experience gained. Also keep in mind that different team members learn differently. Some are able to hear something once and do it while others need to be able to see it or try it first. This applies to a new basketball drill or use of a new statistical tool. In basketball terms, the training portions are the “practice sessions”.
5) A solid implementation plan – Also very important and is the actual “Game” where the learned skills are applied in the real world under real conditions. A solid implementation plan requires the following:
a) Overall strategy (how to use the skills and tools learned in a structured manner)
b) Clear Goals – What are the individual and team goals? Set some measures (% of foul shots as a team for a game, QMS business process metrics, etc…
c) Constant Reinforcement – different team members react differently to different types of reinforcement and feedback. A once size fits all approach will not lead to optimal results. You need to find out the type of reinforcement (positive and negative) that works for your entire team.
d) Walk the Talk – also known as “do what you say”. If you promote a desired behavior make sure that you as the leader live by that rule as well. To do otherwise will result in no one doing the behavior either. If you talk about “good sportsmanship” you must exhibit that behavior yourself. If you promote a thorough well planned product planning process – do not deviate because it is not convenient. You will only pay the price later.
6) Continually improve in all areas – This applies both on the court and in your business. All important activities must be made better, faster and on the business side of things – cheaper. You have to measure performance however to know where you are currently so you can decide what improvements need to be done and what activities need to be done to improve it in which areas. Some business units may need to reduce non-value added activities and some players may need to work on ball handling where others need to work on foul shooting.
Needless to say the experience has been very enlightening and rewarding.