"Not Conducive to Suggestions"


My ears always perk up when I hear the word “suggestions.” Again, it was in a football context. But unlike the ASU Sun Devil example, it was the other way around.

As my new team (the Cowboys) was still losing to my old hometown team (the Lions). The Lions have been notorious this year for hardly ever running the ball. The announcers told a story where one of them (Joe Buck?) asked if the Lions' offensive linemen ever suggested running the ball more, and the answer was “The atmosphere's not one that's real conducive to suggestions right now.”

The season is collapsing for the Lions (which is partly why I gave up on them so long ago). A team that started 6-2 is now 6-7 and probably won't make the playoffs.

Is this like our workplaces? Things go badly and the leaders, in their pride, won't listen to the employees? Maybe during bad times is exactly when you should be asking for suggestions, or at least creating a “conducive” atmosphere.

The fans make suggestions all the time…. “Fire Millen!” they chant (Matt Millen is the team president who somehow still has his job with a track record of losing). When will the Ford family hire an Alan Mullaly for the football team? I hope Mullaly doesn't turn into a Millen for the auto company!

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. As long as the Ford family runs the Lions and Ford Motor they will imprint it with their management style. They need to stop giving input and just collect their checks, then maybe truly good managers can eventually rise to the top.


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