Friday, November 25, 2005

You want 'em to do what?

You want ‘em to do what?

Did my patriotic duty yesterday, Thanksgiving Day. After hosting the in-laws, they left, we cleaned up and Gretchen and I sat down to conclude the day by watching some football on TV.

West Virginia was pounding Pittsburgh pretty hard. As the teams left for halftime, the sideline reporter corralled Pitt head coach Dave “not a contender for the Nobel Prize” Wannstedt to ask him about adjustments for the second half. Wannstedt responded in the same manner that cost him his job with both the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins; excuses and lack of clarity.

“We just have to run faster” was his summary of his plans for the second half. Huh? Just run faster? Like these college players could dial in more speed, on command?

While comical in a sports setting, it hit me that many managers (including me) often do a similar thing. We confuse an outcome with a method to achieve the outcome.

“We just have to cut costs.”

“We just have to get more sales.”

“We just have to boost productivity.”

No more helpful than the Pitt coach.

A leader can see what the outcome needs to be AND then articulates how to get there.

For example, a better comment by Wannstedt would have been “Our team speed can’t keep up with West Virginia. We’re going to have to adjust our defensive alignment to get our guys in better position.”

The lean perspective knows cutting costs and boosting productivity is there to be had by eliminating waste. Not expecting our staff to “run faster” but rather putting them a position where they don’t have to run as far.

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.

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