When either a leader or supervisor is trying to manage a successful outcome, discipline is very important. I am not talking about the standard definition where we try to control the lives of people and their time at work. I am talking about a discipline where we trained team members with consistency so they do the same thing the same way every time. Why? Because it is nearly impossible to implement a successful change to a process where people do things differently.
The Necessary Discipline in Football
I was listening to “First Take”, a show on ESPN and James Harrison was a guest.. For those that do not know him, he was a very successful football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. When asked about the Pittsburgh head coach, he said the coach lacked discipline. A video was then aired where they asked the coach if he thought he lacked discipline. He answered “no”. Furthermore he stated he wasn’t going to stop the players from having fun. So, when James Harrison heard that response, he quickly stated he was not talking about the fun and jokes of the team. He was talking about the football discipline of playing the game.
As a New England Patriots player, the head coach made sure all the coaches were doing the same thing the same way every time and they in turn insured the players followed suit. The principle of consistency was implemented between the coaches and players. Bill Belichick is the head coach of the New England Patriots that James Harrison was referring to. Bill Belichick believes this discipline is necessary. Under Bill’s watch, the Patriots have been very successful.
Consistency in Other Businesses
What do you think is behind the success of so many franchises? Go to a McDonald’s in Connecticut and then go to one in California. Do you notice a difference? The buildings are almost identical. The burgers are the same. Go to any Walgreens and you will notice all the stores are laid out the same way. Does a Pizza Hut pizza in Florida taste different than one you would purchase in Wisconsin? I don’t think so. Why? All these successful businesses have consistency from one store to another, regardless of location.
I used this philosophy in manufacturing. We ensured everyone was doing each operation the same way. I was very open in trying new ways but they were tested first and if approved to be better, we definitely made the change. It is so much easier to implement a change when everyone is doing things the same way. However, if people do the same operation differently, how do you know which one is the right one? How do you make a change? From my standpoint, when we established a discipline of consistency, we were very successful. We encountered minimal quality issues, while either meeting or exceeding schedules. Additionally, costs were controlled. It was not about a discipline to control people and manage their time at work. It was a work discipline to ensure we were good at what we did. In essence, this type of discipline is truly managing the process and not the people and this discipline will work in any type of business.