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Taking Responsibility for Mistakes – On the Field, and Off


Wildcats know they have room to improve —

Those of you who know me recognize me as a diehard Northwestern Wildcats fan. Yes, it's often a tortured existence.

Our football team is 3-0. That's nothing to get too excited about, but I do like hearing about the progress the team is making in all regards — including organizational dynamics. Yes, that and leadership apply in sports.

Northwestern is getting there by not just reveling in its sacks and touchdowns but acknowledging its flaws.

That's the key for any “Lean” organization — being able to admit mistakes and problems. That's the first step in process improvement. I'm just hoping Northwestern has fewer and fewer flaws to recognize each game…

“Guys came over to the sideline to take responsibility for missed tackles or not closing their gaps,” [Coach Pat Fitzgerald] said. “When you've got that, you have an opportunity to get it fixed. I think our program has a lot of trust.”

Responsibility. That's so much better than finger pointing and blaming. A leader (in this case, a head coach) can set the tone for what behavior they want in the organization.

What are you doing to set that tone in your organization?


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. 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 book is the anthology 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. He is currently writing his next book, tentatively titled Measures of Success.

1 Comment
  1. Mike Gardner says

    Wait a minute, did I read that correctly? Three and oh? Northwestern? Wow!

    And this while mighty U of M and OSU are having their butts handed to them on Saturdays.

    Good going Wildcats! Is there a Big Ten championship in their future? A Rose Bowl berth?

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