Posted by: Knightbird | July 20, 2010

“Coach Wooden’s Leadership Game Plan for Success”

Jim Huntzinger introduced me to the work being done by the “BeLikeCoach” team last week ( They want to revolutionize the world of coaching. I want to revolutionize the state of Alaska through Lean philosophies. After talking to Mark Siwik, the Executive Director for the group, and exchanging emails between some of the “Movers and Shakers” including Swen Nater and Dr. Ronald Gallimore, I picked up a copy of the book by the same title as this blog. After reading it, all I can say is that Coach was very Lean in his approach to coaching.

Here are a few of the points made by Coach Wooden that look to be to be lean in philosophy.

“Big things are accomplished only through the perfection of minor details.” In Lean, standard work is paying attention to the details, and ensuring that they are executed the same way every time. Coach was a stickler for performing the skills of basketball in their most efficient form. On page 235 Fred Slaughter, a player from 1962-64, told the story of how his fade away jump shot allowed him to become the best high school player in Kansas. Coach told him that a fade away didn’t allow him to get into position around the basket to rebound. Fred wouldn’t give up the shot until he heard that he could watch the next game from the bench because his replacement knew the proper skills and would execute them. Fred changed to the proper shot. Why, because it provided the best overall result for the team.

“Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.” One of Coach’s mentors, Piggy Lambert, told him “The team that makes the most mistakes usually wins.” If you are well trained, and taking the initiative to try difficult tasks, you are going to make mistakes. In the world of Lean, we talk about mistakes, or defects, being treasures. By surfacing defects, you give yourself an opportunity to improve. Failures are not failures, but an opportunity to learn.

“Don’t Look At The Scoreboard.” In business, money is the scoreboard, and we don’t seem to care how we get it. The Enron’s, WorldCom’s, Lehman Brothers and others demonstrate what happens to them and their many victims when greed overtakes sound business morals and practices.

BeLikeCoach has a solid foundation to build on, and I now see why their leadership finds merit in looking at the tools of Lean to help them further their mission.

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