Manufacturing is Like Football

With fall comes the onset of football and the wind-down of baseball. We both love sports and of them all, we love baseball and football the most. There is just nothing like the crack of a bat during a World Series game or a leaping touchdown reception during the Super Bowl.

Football on Goal Line -- For Manufacturing is Like Football Blog PostWhile both are team sports we love, we have come to realize that the special world of manufacturing management is a lot more like football than baseball.

Consider the exquisitely crafted game of baseball. One man stands in the batter box and stares down a pitcher and eight other men who try to stop him from hitting the ball. One man against many – one individual man.

Another way to look at the game is that the real reason there are eight defensive fielders out there is simply to hold down the damage if the pitcher screws up. After all, if the pitcher strikes out 27 men in a row, then there is no need for an infield or outfield. Well, you would need a catcher, but only because otherwise the home plate umpire is gonna have a bad day! And if the pitcher does serve up a home run to a batter, it might be just that one hit that wins the game… what the heck did the team need the other 8 batters for? Simply put, the magnificent game of baseball is a collection of individual efforts.

Football also depends on individual efforts, but those efforts are dependent upon the efforts of each team member every time the ball is snapped. If just one offensive lineman fails in his duties, the quarterback is sacked by the defense. And if somehow the quarterback evades the rush long enough to get a pass off, it will come to nothing if a receiver is not there to catch the ball. Individual accomplishments are less important in the game of football than the teamwork between players.

And so it is with the manufacturing management team. Your team can only be successful if each and every supervisor does his job so that the output of his sequence, materials, and information is within specification for quantity and quality. It won’t do any good for one sequence to hit a home run while other sequences are striking out. If you all learn to block and tackle like a football team, you will give yourselves the best chance of success. Your sense of enlightened self-interest will also lead you to understand that some team members are weaker than others in some areas and will need extra help.  A football kicker is usually a terrible tackler, but he plays an important part on the field. You will have kickers on your management team as well.

Like it is with the football team, each member of the manufacturing management team needs to play their position well to ensure the team reaches the goal. Success only comes from the individual efforts of many that achieve success for the team as a whole.

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