Olympics Offer Lessons In Lean

As you watch the Olympic Games this year, take notice of the “lean” things that you see.

I’ve been watching the Olympics a long time.  The earliest ones I remember were in Mexico in 1968.

The athletes truly are more skilled.  Faster.  As the years have gone on the racers have carved out new records hundredths and tenths of a second at a time.  As you watch the back stories, you see that they are constantly employing new training techniques and availing themselves of new technology.

Swimsuits are made with Teflon to add flotation.  Bicycles with space-age materials to cut down weight. Uniforms that wick perspiration. 

Gymnasts and divers are trying new skills.  Take the balance beam, for instance.  When that was introduced as a competition, the goal was to walk elegantly, maintaining a straight spine and perfect balance.  It was a big deal the first time a gymnast managed a “split” on the beam.

No one imagined the acrobatics necessary to achieve competitive status today.  As I watch them tumble down the beam or jump in the air only to land securely on the beam, I find myself wondering: Who thought to try that? What kind of courage did it take?  What got broken before it was done successfully?

The Olympic Games are a great display of “lean” techniques.  How do we do more in less time?  How do we streamline techniques and physical motion to eliminate waste?  How do we use technology to assure a greater quality of decision making and judgment?

Make a list as you watch.  Note how lean techniques were employed and what results were achieved.  Consider what can be done in our places to achieve similar results.

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PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
PalletOne Inc.
Company President, Howe Q. Wallace

Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.


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