It’s nearly impossible to avoid seeking lean lessons in sports. Nothing like reflecting on something that we don’t consider work to gain a few insights about work. And with the upcoming Super Bowl, a game in which teamwork, a game plan, and constant adjustment plays a huge role in superior performance, I got to thinking about which of the two head coaches (The Seahawks’ Pete Carroll and The Broncos’ John Fox) this year would be considered more “lean” in his approach?
After a bit of unscientific research, I came up with neither. My candidate, based on this interview, tilts me towards Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
Here we have a guy who didn’t base his NFL success on the same plays that brought him college accolades. Rather, he imported his key principles, based on a scientific approach. As noted in the article, “there was obviously a philosophy of being inquisitive” to Kelly, who is seen as “someone who challenged the obvious.” And—this will sound familiar to anyone who’s worked with lean leaders who have been exposed to serious practice—Kelly doesn’t provide answers. Rather, in contrast to every other job candidate who sought to dutifully answer all the questions, Kelly volleyed back with questions to the questions, examining the situation at all times. Why? And, why?
Sounds like the qualities we look for in lean leadership. How about the two chief engineers of the Seahawks and the Broncos? Who in your opinion is playing the lean game and why? And of course by lean game, I mean who’s in it to win?