Are you Winning? A Hockey Lesson for Lean Metrics.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Image via Wikipedia

The world of sports is rife with statistics and hockey is no exception, especially here in Canada.  Over the past few weeks, local Toronto hockey fans anxiously watched or listened for the results of every Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game – all the while hoping for a win and a shot at making into the playoffs.

As has been the case for the past many years, the Leaf’s contention for a playoff spot was equally dependent on their own performance and that of their competitors.  The Leaf’s finally started to win games as did their competitors.  In the end they didn’t make it.

It is interesting to note that, despite their lack luster record, the Maple Leafs are one of the top franchises in the National Hockey League (NHL).  Thanks to the Toronto Star, I learned that we have 45 reasons to hope.

What is the lesson here?

All the statistics or metrics in the world won’t change the final outcome for the Toronto Maple Leafs and neither will any of the excuses for their poor performance.

These players are paid professionals, hired for the specific purpose of contributing to the overall performance of their team to win hockey games.  In the end, no one cares about player performance data, injuries, shots on net, penalties, goals against, or any other metric.

To me it really comes down to one question:

Are you Winning?

The answer to this question is either Yes or No.  There is no room for excuses or “it depends”.  You either know or you don’t.  In hockey, it’s easy.  The metric that matters is the final score at the end of the game.

We are all paid to peform – excuses don’t count.  Determine which metric defines winning performance and be ready when someone asks:

Are you Winning?

As any rainmaker knows, customers expect a quality, low cost product or solution, delivered on time, and in full.  To do anything less is inexcusable.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics
Twitter:  @Versalytics
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4 thoughts on “Are you Winning? A Hockey Lesson for Lean Metrics.”

  1. Like the post and I think the point is a very good one, are you winning. Unfortunately too often the answer seems to depend on who is keeping score and who defines what winning looks like in the first place.

    If managers can move their own goal posts it is amazing how many times they can score.

    1. James, thank you for your comments. Of course the premise for the post requires:
      1) clearly defined rules of engagement and,
      2) a culture of integrity and accountability.

      At the personal level you can at least keep score for yourself.

  2. Great site and also great post …. As with the first comment here my first reaction to this post is that you really have to define what winning really means. This also goes with the understanding that you have clarified but only after you have set your aim or as in Deming’s first point “Create constancy of purpose”. The Operational definition of this is what set’s your direction.

    Is the Leaf’s purpose really about winning hockey games or is it about being a profitable organization or something else?

  3. Don, thank you for your comment. I appreciate creating “Constancy of Purpose” and agree that purpose drives vision and all else that follows.

    With respect to the Leaf’s and profitability, this is likely a greater concern for the owners. Oddly, the latest data suggests that they make more money when they are losing games.

    As for the Leaf’s fans, I’m sure its more about winning games and making it into the playoffs – maybe even a shot at the Stanley Cup.

    We’ll have a better idea of what the future holds for the Leafs as Rogers and Bell will soon become the majority shareholders as announced this past week

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