Monday Morning Quarterback…sort of

For those of you who watched the Denver Broncos defeat the Baltimore Ravens you probably recall the final play where the Broncos defense intercepted the end-zone pass to seal the victory. However, there was an interesting side story that may not be as memorable to most viewers. During a punt return in the first quarter the line judge (Gary Arthurside) suffered a broken collar bone and had to leave the game. For me this was the game’s highlight.

Let me explain: There are seven officials on the field during an NFL game with each having a specific position and job to do. What is exciting is knowing league officials ran through a “what if” exercise and completed some version of a risk analysis. In six sigma we use a “Failure Mode and Effects Analysis” or FMEA. This is a very useful risk analysis tool for developing contingency plans. Once risks are identified teams can make intelligent, cost effective decisions about what to do with the risk (Proactive behaviors). Typically, there are four risk-response strategies:

  • Avoid: Use early stage planning to prevent the risk
  • Transfer: Give the risk to another party (insurance, warranty, guarantees)
  • Mitigate: Develop strategy to lessen impact or likelihood of occurrence
  • Accept: Decide risk is not worth taking any action
The NFL officials used a mitigation strategy that involved a no-cost procedural change (verses paying an 8th official to be on stand-by for every game). Low cost and effective…just how we like it. Once the strategy was approved the league practiced the contingency plan by using only six officials during week #4 of preseason. Practice the plan…nice work NFL!
Yep, I can’t even enjoy a good football game without see the application of Lean Six Sigma tools. This case study does highlight how the principles of Lean Six Sigma and Project Management apply across all industries…even the NFL.
Go deep, Erik