Coaching It or Allowing It
I was recently browsing around for information on Mike Leach, the current football coach at Washington State University and formerly of Texas Tech. In my reading, I learned about a saying that he had in his office that said, “You are either coaching it or allowing it to happen.” I’m not sure I’d claim that there is anything especially Lean about the phrase. For starters, it seems to violate the Deming anti-slogan thinking. The other arbitrary test that I apply is that it doesn’t sound like something I would see or hear at Toyota. It also seems pretty convenient to have a phrase like this in an environment where you have a group of 18-22 year olds whose future prospects are more or less dependent on their ability to earn or keep a scholarship that you sign off on.
I still like the quote and I think the reason it stands out to me for the completeness of it. There really isn’t any gray area at all. If you are leading people or teaching them (or both), what occurs is often a result either of your action or lack of action. A lot of what marks companies or facilities that are either starting or in the middle of a transition to Lean is the lack of a complete, consistent, compelling vision that people are following. Navigating the gray area during a Lean transition sometimes doesn’t lend itself to everyone being on the same page.
To my frame of mind, questions like this go back to how deliberate you are in where you are going and how well people can understand the ‘True North’ vision. Little checks like this are sometimes a stretch, but I have found that they help to keep me on track with what I am trying to do.