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Guest Post: Tony Dungy and Lean Leadership

I thought this post was appropriate after Coach Dungy was inducted into the Ring of Honor Monday night in Indianapolis.

Today’s guest blogger is Joe Wilson.  Joe is a great lean thinker that worked for an automotive supplier for several years.  Developing his lean thinking by diving into the deep end.  Joe now works for Tyson Chicken working within their Industrial Engineering group.  I am happy to post his writing here.  Joe is a great lean thinker.

One of my favorite books is Quiet Strength by former NFL coach Tony Dungy.  If you’ve read the book or heard Dungy talk he’s huge on the phrase, “Do what we do”.  Whether he’s talking about following his vision on how to build a championship team, his demeanor in preparing and dealing with his team, or as a battle cry of sorts for his players, the thought is the same…”Do what we do”.

How does that relate to Lean Leadership?  In my mind it’s one of the most perfect metaphors for how to lead in a lean environment.  From a strategic standpoint, you set your philosophy and methodology and stick to it.  From a relationhip standpoint, you are a steady, consistent personality always trying to teach and develop the people you work with.  You develop the standard work, follow the standard work, and gauge people vs their performance to a standard.   That doesn’t mean the standard never changes (hence kaizen) just as the game plan changes slightly week to week or season to season for a football coach.  However the underlying principles remain the same.

At all levels of your operations, do you know how to “do what you do?”  Is it clear who is supposed to do what, when and how?  If you told your people to go “do what we do” in a pre-shift meeting, would they know what that means?  If your plant/site/division/operations management told the team to go “do what we do,” how many people would be rowing in the same direction?

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