French Cup of Respect Is Near Empty

A picture is worth…well, you know.  France completed a disastrous World Cup recently, losing 2-1 to the host nation, South Africa.  Fallout from all the excitement is far-reaching and provides a glimpse of just how big this thing called the World Cup has become.

According to Gregory Viscusi in his June 22 Bloomberg article, several advertisers ‘dumped’ the French national soccer team after ‘looking at the situation’, and there’s concern over Nike’s $52 million contract as the upcoming team shirt supplier.

Two quotes from the French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot I noticed from a Yahoo News article:

“It’s your kids, our children, for whom perhaps you will no longer be heroes. It is the dreams of your partners, your friends, your fans that you have perhaps broken. You have tarnished the image of France.”

“French soccer is facing a disaster, not because it lost a match but because this disaster is a moral disaster.”

I’m not sure to what level you raise the World Cup, but I do tend to agree with the sports minister’s sentiments.  It’s not just about the team.  Or the game.  It all has to do with respect, and our actions cause deeper wounds than we might expect.

I believe the lean pillar of Respect For People could use a little support.  Most companies fail in sustaining long-term lean success because they choose to focus only on continuous improvement, shying away from what is often perceived as a more difficult endeavor…respect for people.

Cultivating a culture of respect within an organization does not happen overnight.  It involves more than just the workers, the supervisors, and the managers.  It involves the suppliers and customers as well.  It involves everyone.

Take a look at the French national team.  It’s easy to think the team is just the players. It’s not. This is a national team.  The World Cup is big, and our enterprises are bigger than we realize. Focusing only on continuous improvement initiatives sets us up for future failure.

It all starts with one player insulting his coach at halftime.  No respect.  The player gets sent home.  So now all the players refuse to practice the next day in protest.  No respect. Trust between players and coaches that took years to build erodes quickly.  The effects translate to the field; low morale, less teamwork.  Low efficiency, less profit.

And we lose.

Not just the team.  Without a proper culture of respect for people, everyone in the enterprise eventually loses.  The fallout is far-reaching and the wounds can be deep.

Lean Respect For People is more than just saying; “I respect you”, and agreeing to develop ‘real’ teams.  It involves forming long-term relationships with business partners built on trust and helping those partners to improve and stay competitive.  It’s about not troubling your ‘customers’.  It’s about managers who ‘walk the talk’ that are willing to coach and support, not direct and play favorites.

Achieving a successful lean transformation and reaping the sustained benefits that come with it, takes more than fielding a team of just continuous improvement players.

Lots to think about…How stable is your lean pillar of Respect For People?  How long are you going to keep playing the CI game?  Any Respectful comments?

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About Steve Martin - theThinkShack

Hey there...I'm Steve. I built theThinkShack...a virtual hideaway about Lean Thinking and how it Connects to Everyday Life.
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2 Responses to French Cup of Respect Is Near Empty

  1. Benny says:

    Interesting. I didn’t know this had happened.

    I wonder if the situation would have been different – all things held constant – if they’d won.

    Lean thinking… I just did a bit of research into “lean” and it is a manufacturing method. It’s interesting to try and apply it to people. I’m curious to see where this goes in terms of philosophies and such.

    • Benny – Glad to see you’re bouncin’ around theThinkShack.

      Cool that you researched lean. Be careful…there’s a lot of misguided folks out there that misapply lean or lean thinking. If you want to do more digging, the links I have on theThinkShack site take you to good lean sites. Enjoy.

      One of the most common mistakes folks make with lean is they try to do things to people. Lean implemented properly is about doing things with people…big difference. Implementing lean with people has been most of my career…you’re right, it’s very interesting!

      Thanks for connecting. Hope we stay in contact.

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