Waste in the New Yankee Stadium Layout?


New Yankee Stadium a winner, team a big loser to Tribe 10-2 – USATODAY.com

If you're not a Yankees fan, let's kick them while they're down (losing 22-4 Saturday). As the kid Nelson from the Simpsons would say, Haw-HA!

The new $1.5 billion ballpark is either beautiful and/or a monument to the excesses of the finance industry, depending on your perspective. One comment about the new stadium struck a nerve with me:

“Yankees Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said… the clubhouse is too big: ‘If you want to talk to a guy, you have to walk a half-mile.'”

A blog gives a description in the post “Inside the New Clubhouse“:

“For starters, you could play touch football in there, that’s how big it is.”

Each locker has:

  • Frosted glass partition separating other lockers
  • A/C outlets for phones and iPods
  • Thinkpad computer and screen

As with any technology (say a hospital's Computerized Physician Order Entry system), there are early adopters and there are those who are “old school”:

“I haven’t even turned mine on,” Jorge Posada said.

But back to the layout – it's important to have a clubhouse (or any workspace) that's not TOO small. But if it feels like half a mile (yes, Yogi was exaggerating), what does that do to team dynamics? Will players bond if they're too separated, too far, or too engrossed in their BlackBerries and individual electronic devices?

As for who is where, picture the clubhouse like a clock. Jeter is at 1 o’clock. Then going clockwise around the room you have:

Burnett, Pettitte, Wang, Chamberlain, Sabathia, Cano, Molina, Pena, Albaladejo, the doorway, Swisher, Damon, Nady, Teixeira, Gardner, Ransom, Cabrera, Berroa, Matsui, Rivera, Ramirez, Veras, Coke, Bruney, Rodriguez and then Posada back at 11 o’clock. There’s a doorway between Jeter and Posada.

That does sound a bit like a Lean cellular U-shaped layout, which would shorten walking distances compared to a long linear clubhouse layout… but we normally use a U shape to keep the sides of the cell close, which is good for material flow (not relevant to the Yankees) and communication (very relevant).

Layout and communication issues like this come up in any workplace, including hospitals. A hospital laboratory might change their layout to bring co-workers closer together, which is good for the physical flow of patient specimens and it's good for collaboration, teamwork and problem solving.

Bigger isn't always better for spaces, we certainly learn that in hospitals. Sometimes, it seems like the architects are paid by the square foot (maybe they are) and they'll design layouts that “fully fill” the space that was given in the high-level layout, even if that creates more distance (which leads to more batching) and more walking.

With the Lean process, we often create a layout that works much better and takes up less space, without being so tight as to be uncomfortable. Rather than filling the space “because it's there,” it's better to use just the space that's needed, reserving a big block of open space for future use.

Spaces that are bigger than necessary can lead to higher construction costs and ongoing operational inefficiency. One hospital I worked with complained that their new pharmacy space (designed without any Lean involvement) was too big. They said the old space had all of the steps in the process right next to each other. The new space had all of the stations and equipment spread out to fill the space… they were concerned about the extra walking and batching that would inevitably occur. They planned on using the Lean process to help fix that new design, knowing they would free space and reduce walking.

One way we free up space is separating “productive” space (testing) from “non-productive” space (such as supply storage). We can reduce inventory levels with 5S and kanban methods… making the productive spaces smaller and more efficient for everyone.

One detail of the Yankees' clubhouse begs a question:

Jeter and Posada get the all-important empty locker next to them to store more stuff. Perks of being around so long.

Do they really need “more stuff?” Why does seniority bring that privilege?

Barry Bonds, famous baseball diva, allegedly had FIVE lockers that pretty well separated him from the rest of his teammates (and gave him a reputation for being a jerk and bad teammate). Looking at the pictures, you can see the message Barry was sending. Slightly different issue, but what message do executives and managers send by separating them from the “gemba” so much? Does it create effective teamwork to have leaders and executives in their special suites or buildings separate from the hospital itself?

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  1. Mike says

    The Yankees area reflects the “bigger is better” mentality Americans seem to have. And I agree about executive privlidge too. You cannot build a workable team when people get over-the-top perks resulting from a title.

    As much as I admire Derek Jeter, giving him more space sends the wrong message to the team.

    Interesting post! I agree 100%.

  2. Anonymous says

    sounds like a pretty cool locker room to me. i wouldn’t have any probelems with it lol. but have any of you seen that the bronx is burning is now airing on msg on sundays at 9pm?? (http://www.msg.com/summerof77/). its better this time around since you get to go in depth with post show commentary from the likes of reggie jackson, bucky dent, and many other legends. but it also makes me appreciate that im around for the beginning of the new stadium. its history that we can actually witness!

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