By Bill Baldwin | Chief Operating Officer|Kepner-Tregoe
I am a big fan of sports movies and TV shows that transcend life lessons and create great parallels between sports, life and business. One of my all-time favorite sports TV shows is Friday Night Lights. It’s a great TV drama about a high school football team in Texas, based on a famous book, which teaches life lessons through sports, creating great parallels to the world of business and what we do at Kepner-Tregoe (KT) as the leaders in problem solving.
The most quotable character in the show is Coach Eric Taylor. His job is to teach, coach, and inspire the young men on his team. He not only does this with football knowledge, but also demonstrates some really valuable, teachable moments.
I was recently looking back on some of his best quotes and couldn’t help notice how many can be related to problem solving. I thought I’d share my list of the best Coach Taylor quotes, and how they can relate to any team who is working to solve problems more effectively be it on the field or in a business organization:
"Don't just stand by and watch it happen." – No matter what your job is, problems are all around you. Sometimes it’s easy to ignore problems that happen only intermittently. They might somehow fix themselves or perhaps not impact your job directly. But what if the problem is impacting another person or team at your company? Or worse yet, the customer. In the least, it’s important to share this knowledge with your co-workers or management. Another option…take the Coach’s advice and go after it – gather a team together and figure out a solution.
"Stick together. It all works out." – From what we typically see at Kepner-Tregoe, very few problems are solved by just one person. Especially when problems are complex and you haven’t seen them before. Gathering a team of subject matter experts, great problem solvers and someone to facilitate the conversation can really help gather the information needed to find cause.
"My dad used to say, 'It always looks bad before it gets better.'" – Many companies call KT when they’re experiencing a lot of pain – lots of problems with employee’s firefighting all the time, and no end in sight. When we teach our Problem Solving methodology, success just doesn’t happen overnight. There’s always the challenge of learning a new skill in the classroom and then applying it back on the job. Stick with it, even with those early struggles, and solid use of KT’s problem solving process will surely help.
"Success is not a goal, it's a byproduct." – Coaches want touchdowns but they don’t coach touchdowns, they teach the process to get them. Similarly, companies implement training programs and hire consultants for the results, but what we’ve found is that the hard work to implement a new problem solving process is what ultimately results in goals being achieved. Focus on the “blocking and tackling” and the results will come.
"Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose." – This is my favorite Coach Taylor quote of them all. This quote inspires lots of people! In the world of problem solving, clear eyes are the vision to see through the abundance of data, stress and pain of ongoing problems and confidently work towards a solution. Full hearts to me means passion and sticking with a problem until a resolution is found. And can’t lose is about that winning feeling when a team finally solves a problem after a ton of hard work. Maybe it’s not like winning the state championship, but success feels great!
Kepner-Tregoe has a powerful toolkit for root-cause analysis and preventing future problems that organizations worldwide have utilized for more than 50 years.