The best future does not just happen. One should measure where you are starting from, where you want to go, and what to change to get there.
This is not a clean slate of paper as we have existing players and their contracts. Over time, the roster can and will change. Coaches come and go. Even owners can change, yet all those take time and you start with the existing team. The salary cap slows down the roster turnover in the best of times. The Mara enhancement makes it worse. No matter what you think of the players, coaches, even owner, one still has to start with what we have NOW.
I think we all have the end goal in sight: The Lombardi trophy and not just one.
The hard part is figuring out what needs to change to go from here to there. We have had two years of 8-8 records but are they the same? Did we have any differences in the roster turnover, coaches, injuries, will to fight until the end of the game, number and type of penalties and their yardage and effects. Did these have any effect on the final record?
One way to analyse that is to use a process perspective. A standard quality processes often involve five steps called DMAIC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Sigma
The DMAIC project methodology has five phases:
DEFINE the problem.
We want to win the NFL championship REPEATEDLY in a cost effective manner. Note repeatedly is a different goal from one and done and implies a long term approach. Given salary caps, every player acquisition has a longer term than just this year.
MEASURE key aspects of the current process and collect relevant data.
These include key outputs such as wins to get to the playoffs, wins in the playoffs..
Inputs include Offense, defense, special teams and all the stats involved.. These include yards, points, penalties for our team and our opponents. One should note the starting position for the offense and ability to convert 3rd downs and turnovers affect each of the three units.
Constraints include salary cap, roster size, depth, injuries, talent, RKG characteristics individually and as a unit, coaching, schemes, luck
ANALYZE the data to investigate and verify cause-and-effect relationships.
Determine what the relationships are, and attempt to ensure that all factors have been considered. Seek out root cause of the defect under investigation.
One could focus on the outputs and you do NOTHING for the process. The right underlying inputs must change for good outputs. Comparing outputs without considering the imputs is worthless for improvement. Two outcomes with different input processes are NOT equal. This is true regardless of whether they have the same output in any given time frame.
The key is the relationship between the input factors. Repair the cause and you ultimately cure the problem and hence get a good output. Attempt to fix a symptom that is NOT a cause of a problem and any output effect is random in nature. In fact, you could cause worse problems.
Imagine having pneumonia with a bad cough. So you take a cough drop and your throat FEELS better so you can talk more and cause worse problems. Yet if you take antibiotics to cure the infection, eventually you cure the problem and your throat will get better also.
It is best to work backwards and ask why a problem exists or what caused the problem. First list all the problems and then try to put them into some order. Patterns will emerge and it is often a single cause is responsible for multiple bad results.
IMPROVE or optimize the current process
One should do this based upon data analysis using techniques such as design of experiments, poka yoke or mistake proofing, and standard work to create a new, future state process. Set up pilot runs to establish process capability.
Once you know what are the underlying root causes, one should fix the root causes. This will not immediately cause good outputs. In fact, one might get worse results immediately.
Imagine a business that is losing money. A new manager rids the firm of lots of outdated inventory by speeding up the process of manufacturing to selling. For a while the sales might be great but they are getting paid on credit so the firm does not yet have the money to replace the old inventory with new inventory. Yet inventory is listed as assets so having fewer assets shows the firm in worse shape.
Garrett ate dead money to rid the team of high cost low performers. This hurt in the short term but opens the team flexibility up in the long term.
We have hired new coaches since Garrett took over. In particular we have talked about Woicik as the strength and conditioning program. We have been stronger at the end of the game. His first year was during the lockout and that was the worst of all times as the off-season is where the most benefit occurs. If anything this effect has been hidden by the influx of so many players off the street that have not had a full year of this work.
Other coaches have worked on fundamentals. Callahan was noted every day during TC for his INDIVIDUAL work. Our LB and secondary coaches were able to work miracles with players literally off the street.
CONTROL the future state process
This is done to ensure that any deviations from target are corrected before they result in defects. Implement control systems such as statistical process control, production boards, visual workplaces, and continuously monitor the process.
The following is just ONE part of the full process for improvement. Each of these can be considered processes in their own right with inputs and outputs that effect other processes too.
We want better talent
See strategy series of articles that I wrote. Then we need a scouting process to identify the characteristics for each position. Are they the right size and other measrueables Are they RKG?
Are they young, mature, experienced, healthy, coachesWe need to measure how each player currently on the roster fits the characteristic Do we have a player on the roster now for each position. Do we have his replacement and depth
Do we have a process to acquire others that we need. We need a budget for each position and for each player. We need to improve the positions in the most cost effective manner. Salary caps prevent us from having stars everywhere. There must a way to prioritize improvements
We want the players to develop individually and as a unit.
Do we have the right coaches and the right schemes. Coaches and Players have to fit the scheme. Are we giving young players time and snaps to get experience and are the individuals playing together as a unit
Garrett is famous for talking about the process to the point of parody. Yet he IS working the process. It is a slow endeavor, but one needs to focus on the internal not the final output.