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Practice to Play Ratio

Is your Lean Six Sigma training a football or a baseball model?

March 23, 2009

When it comes to creating outstanding Six Sigma results, college sports teams provide an interesting case in contrasting practice techniques.

A typical college football teams plays a minimum of 12 games, each of which has 60 minutes of running clock time, for a total of 12 hours. During the season, the team practices approximately 380 hours during the week (this would probably be higher if not limited by the NCAA). The ratio of practice to play is therefore 32:1, where the team plays fewer games, and all of the practice is completed before or between games.

On the other hand, a typical college baseball team plays 56 games, each of which has roughly 2.5 hours of play, for a total of 140 hours. During the season, the team practices approximately 130 hours (42 hours in the short pre-season time, 32 hours during the season, and 56 hours of pre-game warm-up). The ratio of practice to play is roughly 1:1, which is a little deceiving since a team plays so many games in a season that much of the team experience is derived from the games rather than the practices.

So now back to Lean Six Sigma, which is very much a team sport. What’s your deployment’s ratio of practice to performance, and when does the practice occur: during or after your Belt training? At MoreSteam, we favor the football model (no offense to you baseball fans). While every project is an opportunity for Belts to gain experience and improve their craft, the number of projects (games) you complete in a year is relatively small, similar to a football season. Each project is that much more critical to your – and your company’s – success, so shouldn’t you be as prepared as possible before you start to play?

If you want to follow the football training model, try adding more practice-based exercises, such as simulations, quizzes, role playing, and teach-backs to your training curricula. Give your belts the advantage of risk-free practice prior to their first project. They’ll begin their Lean Six Sigma journey with greater speed and confidence, and provide the company with a faster return on investment.

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