Mr Grimshaw's Fine Northern Blog
Made in Blackburn, Built in Sheffield

Lean Coaching

Applying Lean Startup & Lean Production ideas to football clubs and coaching.

The Toyota Way.

The Toyota Way, or Toyota Production System is the method developed at the manufacturer between 1948 & 1975 by Taichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda and is widely credited as the main reason Toyota is the world leader that it is today. TPS is all about eliminating waste, in manufacturing this means things like not overproducing, not having too much stock, not moving stock or inventory that doesn't need to be moved, the waste of faulty products. By continuously changing their processes & procedures to get rid of any waste Toyota has risen from making no cars at all to the worlds largest motor manufacturer, overtaking the likes of Ford, General Motors and Volkswagon along the way.

You can read more about The Toyota Way in Jeffrey Liker's book by the same name

The Lean Startup.

Others have seen how successful the Toyota Way has been and applied it to other industries, perhaps one of the most famous is Eric Reis, the author of The Lean Startup. Eric applies the principle of minimizing waste to software development and startups.

Here, waste isn't having too much stock or too much unnecessary movement of labor or products. Instead waste is seen as anything that doesn't move the business closer to the goals that it has set, and it uses small feedback loops to measure the effect that changes are having.

Planning too far into the future is seen as waste because things will have changed. If you plan 3 months ahead, then the work you've done in between planning an implementing will have changed the conditions so your planning is now invalid, and therefor a waste.

Instead Lean methodology takes the measurements from the changes already made and uses them to plan the next small batch of work. Work is divided into smaller batches so it's effect can be measured, doing too much work before measuring it's impact is wasteful.

The company avoids waste by applying the Scientific Method to all the work they do. They come up with a hypothesis, perhaps making the sign up button bigger will increase sign ups. They design an experiment to test that idea, usually that means showing the bigger button to a small percentage of people who visit the website and comparing sign ups numbers from those that saw the bigger button to those who didn't.

If your idea is right a larger percentage of the people shown the larger button will have signed up compared to those shown the smaller button. You've done a minimal amount of work and either proven your theory, if it's wrong you've created a minimal amount of waste.

More traditional theory would have you create a whole bunch of improvements to the site, bigger buttons, more places to sign up and changing the colour of the button to make it stand out more. You might have the situation where one person wants to move the sign up button and another wants more buttons, how do you implement both of those? Software engineers would implement them all the ideas and customers would see them all at the same time. If numbers improved you wouldn't know what had made the difference, and if they didn't you've wasted a lot more time.

Eric provides many more examples along with detailed descriptions of how to apply The Lean Startup to your own company or team in his 2011 book "The Lean Startup"

For the past 20 years I have worked as a software engineer, over the past 5 years I have been applying some of the techniques from Lean Startups and TPS to the teams I have been part of and they have worked really well, helping the teams increase performance and increase the quality of the work they have produced. When I finished my FA Youth Module 1 I found that many of the ideas they gave us for coaching kids applied equally well to running a software development team, it turns out that the same things used to motivate young football players work equally well on older software developers, so I set out to discover if this worked the other way round too, can you apply The Toyota Way, Lean Startup and the Scientific Method to coaching footballers.

Lean Coaching.

More recently I have been thinking about the more progressive ideas from the software industry, or even wider industry in general and could any of them be applied to coaching ... it strikes me that there is such a crossover between the ideas from the The Lean Startup, The Toyota Way and those of modern coaching techniques evangelized by coaches like Nick Levett that I'm surprised no-one has made the connection before.

Lines of players waiting 5 minutes to take their turn at a drill are the production lines of football and while they are a way of producing footballers, I don't think that it's the best way to produce quality players, for any level. The time in between turns is waste, and must be eliminated.

Read abou the 6 Pillars of Lean Coaching in Part 2.

Tags: coaching