Monday, July 9, 2018

Soccer Ethics

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

A fish rots from the head – Sicilian proverb

While Nelson Mandela was reading, reflecting and seeking to understand his Robben Island jailors (making lasting friends and supporters in the process), Jacob Zuma was playing soccer.

You know the rest of the story. Mandela grew into one of the 20th century’s great heroes and senseis, the father of modern South Africa, the rainbow nation, widely beloved and respected round the world.

Jacob Zuma, by contrast, has brought South Africa to ruin and disgrace, selling it to the sordid Gupta family for thirty pieces of silver.

My South African friends say that Zuma practices ‘soccer ethics’ – lie, cheat, steal and get away with whatever you can. Soccer ethics dissolves standards – there is no right and wrong. There is only, ‘what can I get away with’.

We see soccer ethics on display in this year’s World Cup, no? Neymar, Brazil’s star, and his ilk are cheaters, are they not? They fake injuries brazenly with the hope of drawing unjustified fouls.

[I hope my Brazilian friends and colleagues will forgive me for singling out Neymar. He is simply the most obvious example, and certainly not alone.]

Video replays are exposing the cheaters, and the world is heaping derision on them.

Soccer ethics creates a peculiar mindset: I have no responsibility to anybody but myself. The cheaters’ worst excesses are deserving of a Yellow or Red card – a penalty that would seriously damage their team’s chances.

Moreover, their behavior brings dishonor to their sport. Does they reflect on this? Does it at all hinder their conduct?

A fish rots from the head. Let me suggest, the cheaters on the pitch reflect the cheaters in FIFA management. Sepp Blatter, disgraced former FIFA-head, has more in common with Tony Soprano than he does with Nelson Mandela.

And like Jacob Zuma, Blatter thinks he has done nothing wrong.

I can’t help contrast soccer ethics with ethical codes in say, golf or rugby. [Football can Learn Lessons from Rugby] [Ten Golf lessons for your Company]
Of course, golfers and rugby players sometimes violate the standards, drawing quick & decisive countermeasures from each sport’s ruling body. And censure from fans, other players and often one’s self.

Phil Mickelson is still apologizing for hitting a moving ball on the putting surface in this year’s US Open.
Soccer ethics shame the beautiful game. How do such standards evolve? That’s a blog for another time.

But the leadership lessons are clear: What you do is what you get – so do the right thing.

Who do you want to emulate - Nelson Mandela or Jacob Zuma?

Best regards,


Monday, June 25, 2018

The Entire Experience is the Product

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Imagine you’re a car manufacturer, a major sports team, or the loans division of commercial bank.

What’s your product? Why, the automobile, baseball team or commercial loan, one might respond.

But is that all there is to each experience? Driving the car, sitting in the stadium watching the game, using the commercial loan to expand your business?

In fact, these are only part of the story – the most important part, perhaps, but not the whole thing.

Buying a car begins with the initial research and ends when you sell or otherwise dispose of the car.

In order to sit in a stadium with your family watching your team, you may have to order tickets on-line, download the required apps, drive to the stadium, park your car, line up at ticket entry and so on. And then you have to reverse the process to get home.

Likewise, your loan experience begins with the research and loan application experience, and ends somewhere far downstream.

You get the picture. Nowadays, the entire experience is the product. We need to understand the entire customer journey, not just the ‘most important parts’.

We need to understand the customer’s pain points and hassles across the entire journey.

Our car may be the best in its class, but the servicing it is an lengthy expensive nightmare.

We may have a splendid baseball team, but getting the stadium entails walking through dangerous neighborhoods and or maybe getting your car vandalized. And to get into weekend games you have to line-up, in the sun, for 45 minutes.

Our commercial bank may have the flashiest website but customers leave feeling stupid and confused by our jargon and lack of offer clarity.

Lean & Agile thinkers have to learn to think laterally, and to look upstream and downstream. Empathy means walking the customer’s shoes and feeling where the shoe pinches.

Radical collaboration is the new superpower. And the generalist, grounded in the fundamentals of good management, conversant in multiple disciplines and the latest technologies, ready to collaborate radically, and dissolve silos thereby, the new Spiderman… =)

Best regards,


Monday, June 11, 2018

Can Lean & Agile Help to Fix Our Court Systems? Part 4

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

The past several blogs we've looked at how to improve the Jury Selection process:

1. Jury Panel Selection --> 2. Jury Selection --> 3. Court Case

Our purpose is to increase flow and reduce overall cycle time. In other words, jurors get picked quicker, and court cases get processed quicker.

What can muck up the process? Last blog we inferred an important root cause: poor visual management.

Today we'll look to Little's Law for more insight:

Lead Time = Loading/Capacity

To reduce Lead Time we'd need to either:

  • Increase capacity, or
  • Reduce loading

How might we increase capacity?

Here are some ideas:

  • Run court rooms over two shifts - day & night,
  • Reduce delay, defect & over-processing waste by level-loading the Jury Selection process
  • - Enablers: visual management: Target vs. Actual -- Jury panel members, Jury members, cases, courtrooms & other relevant value stream data

How might we reduce case loading on the court system?

  • More cases heard by a judge (sans jury), as in some European jurisdictions

One final suggestion, from my friend & colleague, Al Norval, who has been a juror a number of times:

Move to a professional jury system.

  • Quicker & better decisions
  • - Many jurors lack the experience & knowledge to understand much testimony
    - Paid jurors would likely be older, wiser and more motivated to effect justice
  • Reduces burden on citizens who are unable to serve because of family or work commitments

Let me conclude as I began in Part 1 of this series:

The problems in the system, and not the people, who I found to be courteous & capable.

How to preserve the integrity of our humane & splendid 19th century system -- while satisfying the needs of a 21st century society?

I believe the principles of Lean & Agile can help.

Best regards