No Joke: Lean Methods Applied by a Hockey Coach in Ontario

Unlike Thursday’s joke, this is real. It’s a video posted by the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), featuring a full-time Lean professional, a “kaizen facilitator,” who is in the third year of coaching a youth (teenagers) hockey team in Ontario.

In the video, he talks about applying some Lean tools, but also and more importantly, a Lean mindset to their practice, their preparation, and their game performance.

Here is the video:


The coach, Wayne Verge, talks about why he introduced Lean ideas to hockey,

“Lean is a way of life right now, so I applied it to hockey.”

I know how he feels – it can be difficult to turn off the “lean thinking” in your brain once you really adopt this methodology.

Verge introduced some tools, like 5S for the locker room, but I like his discussion of proper planning (a form of standardized work, it would seem) and they way they apply the PDCA to their analysis of their game performance. They review each game tape, looking for the top three problems (a very Toyota-like mindset) and then they look for the root cause of any bad performance, such as lack of discipline and lack of flow (player movement). They then to drills and practice to work on those problems before the next game.

In three seasons, the team has literally gone from “worst to first” – a transition you see in many Lean workplaces, as well.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please scroll down to post a comment. Click here to receive posts via email.

Coming Soon – The updated, expanded, and revised 3rd Edition of Mark Graban’s Shingo Research Award-Winning Book Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement. You can pre-order today, with shipping expected by June.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

1 Comment on "No Joke: Lean Methods Applied by a Hockey Coach in Ontario"

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  1. Very inspirational! It will be interesting to follow the teenagers on the team and see how this experience influences them in the work world. They’re certainly getting a healthy introduction to lean concepts and practices at an early age.

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