I am an avid Chicago fan, despite having left the area over twenty years ago. I still watch the teams whenever I can, and follow them religiously on the web.
So, this year has been a huge letdown. The Bears were riding high when their star quarterback, Jay Cutler, was injured. Saying they limped to the end of the season would be generous. They dropped five straight games after that.
The Blackhawks were playing solid in the NHL (hockey) playoffs when Marian Hossa, the team’s leading scorer, was lost after a brutal hit. Their season ended shortly after.
And now, the Bulls, with the best record in basketball, lost last year’s league MVP to a season ending knee injury. They dropped the next game to a team they were expected to sweep. We’ll see how this series turns out.
What do all of these incidents have in common? The loss of a star player brought a top performing team down to earth.
The Lean lesson is to look at your own talent and see where all of your improvement ideas are coming from. If the bulk of the momentum comes from just a few key individuals, you’d better make sure they are happy. If they leave, the core of your continuous improvement culture leaves with them. What appears to be a strong system is actually just a strong individual.
Do a quick risk assessment on your Lean journey, and ask yourself what would happen if any of the key players left. Is there only one person who is well versed in the training? Is there a single individual who does all the planning? Do you have just one seasoned facilitator? Is there a sole gatekeeper to all the continuous improvement data?
If you do not have a backup plan, you’ll be like the Bears and Blackhawks, and perhaps the Bulls. You’ll be sitting on the bench watching the teams (i.e. the competition) with depth pulling away from you.