Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Voice of the Customer


From: qualityg
Re: Voice of the Customer (VOC)


In today’s competitive environment many companies enact a number of strategies to gain market share. However, the pursuit of market share has resulted in more concern with finding new customers than with retaining existing ones. Studies and statistics show that on average, businesses (USA) spend seven times more money attracting new customers than trying to create and retain loyal ones.

So what is the answer? A learning company (Systems Thinking) needs both strategies and their needs to be a balance and correlation between them. To concentrate on one and not the other is like trying to win a football game with only fielding an offensive unit.

The purpose of this write-up is to focus on customer retention and loyalty. There seems to be many strategies and measures for reporting new revenue but little in the area of loss customer share. Likewise, there seems to be many types of customer satisfaction studies, but few for retention. Retention is a far more dynamic measure of customer service performance quality than satisfaction. Customers can give high satisfaction scores and then defect. Between 65 percent and 85 percent of customers who defect say they were satisfied or very satisfied with their former supplier (source: Harvard Business Review).

Dr. Deming used to say, “ It will not suffice to have customers who are merely satisfied. Satisfied customers switch, for no good reason, just to try something else. Success and growth come from customers who boast about your products and services. The loyal customer requires no advertising or other persuation, and he brings a friend with him.”

A Voice of the Customer System is required to monitor customer retention and loyalty. The following model is one example:

* Plan VOC (assessment)
- Organizational enthusiasm for customer-driven needs information
- Assessment of information systems already available

The purpose of the assessment is to gain an understanding of the current state of the VOC processes within the organization.

* Gather VOC (identify needs)
- Customer-defined wants and needs, expectations, problems, and complaints
- Hands-on interviewing by staff for VOC capture and/or use of external professional
customer research vendor as partner

Once needs are identified they can be translated into data, opportunity statements, and other measures that can assist in prioritizing customer retention activities. There are three methods an organization can use to gather needs.

1. Active (proactive) methods – company representatives go directly to the customer or customer venues. Or, the organization may select to use the more formal techniques, such as personal focus groups and in-depth interviews. An outside third part vendor may also represent the organization in these type of efforts. Additionally, VOC data can also be obtained from independent quantitative research studies (i.e. American Consumer Service Index).

2. Receptive (reactive) methods – this is where the customer comes to the organization to provide information. This usually takes the form of complaints, product returns, suggestions and audits. While these are often taken as negative, an organization can retain face if it resolves the issue in an efficient and courteous manner. When dealing with this type of data be sure that a representative sample has been taken before making wholesale changes to your processes. Experience has shown that this type of information gets senior management attention, and with that comes process changes that often are not analyzed properly to determine if the cause(s) is random.

3. Indirect methods – these methods include organizational examination of a specific customer event. That event may be increased revenue, less revenue, new revenue, customer loss, or a change in a customer expectation. This type of inquiry allows the organization to respond to these types of inputs in a constructive manner as opposed to not at all or as an emergency situation.

* Understand VOC (collect and analyze customer information)
- Attribute performance and importance, transaction assessment, latent and
registered complaints impact, and gap profiling
- Prioritization description based on performance, loyalty, and recommendation

The voice of the customer much like the voice of the process needs to be systemically addressed. When collecting and analyzing data and information the following method can be utilized:

1. Define the problem/opportunity
2. Identify and map the process
3. Measure the gap(s)
4. Conduct Root Cause Analysis (understand why)
5. Develop and test countermeasures
6. Implement solutions and evaluate
7. Monitor for on-going improvement


* Implement VOC (take appropriate action)
- Quality Action Teams
- Improvement programs and follow-up measurement

The main purpose of implementation is to create a positive performance for the customer. Customers are the inevitable recipients of implementation efforts, so the result of a sound voice of the customer system is how well it retains loyal customers and increases revenue and sales, not how much information and data the organization has collected and analyzed.


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS AND LEARNINGS

1. Retention-focused organizations concentrate on customers who may be planning to defect. They also gather knowledge from former customers and internal customers.

2. A Total Quality effort must be part of the VOC plan. However, acquiring excellent quality or winning awards should not be the result that an organization strives for, customer preference and profitability is.

3. Understanding customer requirements – Dr. Noriaki Kano a leading expert in customer satisfaction studies states that directly fulfilling customer expectations has risk associated with it if the service/product provider is unaware that there are different types of customer requirements.

- Providing exorbitant quality
- Delighting the customer in one area, and driving them to competitors in another
- Focusing only on what customers say, and not what they think

Dr. Kano’s teachings direct the provider to pay attention to two dimensions and three types of customer requirement.

Example Model of Kano Analysis by qualityg (1992)

KANO MODEL - click on diagram to Enlarge




You must not lose sight of the fact that your customers (int/ext) are the most important judges of your quality, not you!


The first dimension is need fulfillment. Measure the degree to which the customers’ requirements are fulfilled. The dimension ranges, naturally, from completely unfulfilled to completely fulfill.

The second dimension is the customers’ subjective response to the first dimension. It is the dependent variable of customer satisfaction. This may range from irate to delighted.

Kano’s model of customer satisfaction predicts that the degree of customer satisfaction is dependent upon the degree of fulfillment, but is different for different types of customer expectations.


EXPECTED

Expected requirements are those that are so obvious to the customer that they do not state requirements openly. When these requirements are not met, the customer says nothing, and probably doesn’t even notice. When these features or services are not present, the customer complains. Continually improving on meeting these kinds of needs will not obtain customer loyalty or delight.

Example: Telephone dialtone, if it slow in coming or missing, customers complain. When it is working, the customer does not pay much attention, much less become loyal to the provider of the service.

NORMAL

Sometimes referred to as “essential” quality. Customers openly state these needs and are quite aware of them. When these needs are met, customers are satisfied, when they are not met, customers are dissatisfied. For many types of requirements in this category, it is possible to deliver more than customer requirements and generate additional perceived benefit.

Example: Price, performance, and delivery.

DELIGHTFUL

Customers have needs that they are not aware of. These are referred to as ‘latent” needs. They are real, but not yet in the customers’ awareness. If a provider does not meet these needs, there is no client response. They are not dissatisfied, because the need is unknown to them. If a provider understands such a need and fulfills it, the customer is delighted. This can also be described as “attractive” or “surprising” quality. It delights and excites the customers and inspires loyalty and retention.

Example: 3M Post-Its. The need for such a note-posting tool has long been present, but was not voiced until the product existed. It met a latent need, generated much excitement, and became one of the best revenue products for 3M. My new favorite is the Post-IT Easel Sheets!

This expectation is sometimes contradictory to the saying “The customer is always right.” The customer is not cognizant of all things, in order to stay competitive and to acquire new market share as well as warding off defectors; organizations must lead the customer to their latent needs. Companies that fail to use their knowledge of customers to develop the product or service those customers will need next are leaving the door wide open for a competitor to lure them away.

4. Customers, who, through direct company contact or survey, say they’re satisfied today, can disconnect next week, next month, or next year.

5. Reality proves that customer loyalty or retention is a more complex, yet more conclusive, measure of quality performance than customer satisfaction.

- Correlating expressed complaints with satisfaction measures provides little direction for service quality improvement. Use both latent and registered complaints and correlate them with retention or loyalty scores.

- The purpose of a business is to get and keep customers.
Satisfy: To make content or appease, to fulfill requirements
Retain: To keep or use, or to hold or continue to hold in possession

6. Many companies dismiss former customers as lost causes, particularly in times of rapid and sustained growth.

7. Customers who disconnect service can provide a view of the organization that cannot be obtained from within the organization.

8. Most companies are not set up to generate latent complaints when moments of truth with the customer arise. Sales, front-line employees, and even management have little or no training in how to ask for and document such knowledge, so the opportunities are lost, and the company misses out on a vital source of information. For example, I have traveled a number of times to Denver in the winter. I frequently rent a car and often there is no ice scraper. I have repeatedly complained and I usually get a response that, “I’m sorry that happened.” Needless to say, I no longer use that rental car agency because they never documented or did anything about my complaint.

9. Sporadic capturing of customer opinions and receiving satisfaction report cards provides minimal value or strategic direction to an organization. Companies require a strategic methodology to capturing customer defined wants needs and problems. The approach should include both current and former customers in the process. Training must be provided to customer contact personnel to capture the voice of the customer.

10. Customer research studies provide little effectiveness unless there is a means of feeding back the information and data to those in the process affected so that corrective and preventive actions can be taken. Data must be captured and displayed in such a fashion as to attract attention and result in process improvements.

Ask yourself a question, when was the last time you read and absorbed customer research data and did something about it? Sending out an Email or memo saying we must do better in the areas with low ratings will not result in lasting change or improvement.


11. Should we concentrate on selling products/service, or should we be selling the expertise and technology to help our customers define their wants and needs and then sell the best product suited to them.

A good example if this situation was when a friend of mine switched long distance carriers for his business. He told me he chose the new carrier because of its advertised lower rates and coupon offerings. Over a period of time he developed a good relationship with his sales representative who provided expertise on a number of communication issues, including a centrex system, an outbound telemarketing setup, and a new data line for Internet connection. The sales rep knowledge of the current technology available helped saved my friend time and money. Since that time other long distance carriers have approached him and even offered lower rates, he has decided to stay with his current carrier because of the expertise and advice he has received.

12. Front-line and customer contact employees who deal directly with customers every day have a critical effect on customer loyalty and retention. Customers build a bond of trust and partnerships with these employees, and when these people leave or are let go the bond of trust is also broken between the customer and organization. Companies wanting to improve their customer loyalty efforts often don’t grasp the importance of this relationship.

13. The primary purpose of customer measurements are to 1) define customer needs, requirements, expectations, problems and complaints, 2) quantify them, and 3) use this information to proactively move the organization to a culture of customer need anticipation, customer partnership, and customer retention.

14. Communication of customer data is not always transmitted properly throughout the organization. When was the last time you used customer data at a staff meeting? When was the last time you discussed with front line customer contact employees customer data at a staff meeting?

15. Companies will find it very difficult to be customer-focused if they do not practice cross-functional communication and active intradepartmental listening. In many companies, there is so much chimney communication, informational gatekeeping, feudal management practice, and formal memo writing that departments become isolated fortresses. So much time and energy is used making internal numbers look good, no one is focusing on customer loyalty and retention.

16. Many companies require that senior managers call or visit customers. But all too often these meetings are trivial. The managers don’t invest the time and energy to comprehend and empathize with the customer. They usually have a preconceived idea about the customer’s situation and, as a result, do not ask or probe enough to determine the actual well being of the customer. Like in many situations, they collect information but not knowledge.

17. Key questions that a company needs to address are “How many customers do we lose each year?” “What would it cost to keep these customers?” and “How does this cost compare with the ones of finding new customers?”

The following is an example of the revenue impact of losing one local phone customer.

A newly married 20-year-old couple signs up for local phone service. Their average monthly bill is $ 50.00 per month. If we take into account that they live to be 70 years old that will be 50 years of revenue.

$50.00 X 12 months = $600.00 Annual
$600.00 X 50 years = $30,000.00

This figure does not include inflation or the addition of more family members.

If a company were to lose 34 customers, it would equate to over $1,000,000 in lost revenue over the buying life span of those customers.

18. What is the difference between measuring customer satisfaction and customer loyalty? In the past, efforts to gain customer satisfaction have attempted to influence the attitude of the customer. The concept of customer loyalty is geared more to behavior than to attitude. When a customer is loyal, he or she displays purchase behavior defined as nonrandom purchase stated over time by some decision-making unit.

19. Two important conditions associated with loyalty are customer retention and total share of the customer. A customer retention rate is the percentage of customers who have met a specified number of repurchases over a definable period of time.

Customer share denotes the percentage of a customer’s budget spent with the company. For example, AT&T captures 100 percent, or total, share of a customer when the customer spends his or her entire communication budget (i.e. local, long distance, internet, etc.) with them. Do we know what percentage of customer share we have with each customer?

Customer share is a more definitive measure than market share. A company may own 100 percent of the local market in an area, but the percentage of customer share is significantly lower.

20. Increased customer loyalty leads to higher profitability, higher employee retention, and a more stable financial base.

21. Unlike satisfaction measures, which are based on customer attitudes, loyalty can be defined in terms of customer buying behavior. A loyal customer is one who

- makes regular repeat purchases;
- purchases across product and service lines;
- refers others; and
- demonstrates immunity to the pull of competition.

22. There are essentially three ways to generate more revenue:

- Increase customer base
- Obtain more purchases from current customer base
- Obtain more expensive purchase from current customer base

Finding new customers often involves increased overhead as a result of a growing advertising budget, addition to product lines, larger payroll requirements and other associated expenses. In many cases selling more to existing customers is less costly than finding new customers. A company’s current customer base is often an untapped gold mine for additional sales (especially during slow sales periods). The following is an example: Click on diagram to enlargeThe above example assumes an average customer pays $600 annually. In order to keep up with corporate revenue’s four-year objectives, 10,833 new customers will have to be added from the first year to the customer base. However, what could be done to obtain revenue objectives if new customers (4167) could not be obtained between years three and four. One strategy might be to go back to the existing customer database after year three (9166) and sell an additional $273.00 worth of products/services to each customer. This would bring the annual average revenue per customer to $873.00. 9166 customers X $873.00 = $8,001,918 in revenue with no additional customers needed.

While this example is simply stated and it would be impractical to think that no new customers would be acquired during years three and four, it does point out that with a balanced strategy for gaining new customers as well as retaining and selling to current customers, objectives can be achieved at less cost than just adding new customers.






Monday, March 24, 2008

"Absolute Power" – a Detroit mayor, an instructor, and a ceo and now "the bully (updated 3/15/08)

3/24/08

"The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it." Lord Macaulay


Mayor will not resign, seeks 'full and complete vindication'

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage

3/15/08

In light of the recent chaos, circus and clown involving the Mayor of Detroit I am posting this post that I wrote in April of 2005. Three years later and one re-election the situation has only got worse.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080318/ap_on_re_us/detroit_mayor




qualityg says ... Where is Governor Granholm when you need her. She is a lame duck but refuses to act except to say Mayor should not use the "N" word. How about the "R" word and Remove him immediately so the city can move on ...




8/16/05

qualityg says:

If you don't display integrity or you're not sincere, I don't want to work for you. And,
“ I hate rude behavior in men, I won’t tolerate it.”
(that's from Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove).

By not standing up and refusing to speak/heard is viewed by those in authority as an approval of their actions.

I have always been fond of the teachings of Marcus Aurelius - Marcus Aurelius (121-180 A.D.) left behind a record of accomplishment anyone who has ever held or aspired to power, political or otherwise, would envy.

Marcus Aurelius was a man of unimpeachable integrity in a world seething with corruption, a ruler who easily countered Lord Acton's dictum that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. For here was a man with absolute power in every sense of the word, who chose to live more in the manner of a monk than in the style of a Caesar, though he was a Caesar in full control of one of the greatest empires ever known to man.

Growing up I always went out of my way to confront bullies, I also have problems with anyone or any system that starts to control my life or others and leaves one with a sense of "I own you asshole!" Don't get me wrong, I have worked for some good leaders that I have gone to the mat and beyond for because they had integrity and an attitude that I need to earn your respect, because it doesn't come automatically with the position of authority.

Lately, I have come across three examples of absolute power that drives me crazy! It's about a mayor, an instructor and a ceo. I have chosen not to put names with these examples, not out of fear, but because there are so many.

mayor

Let's assume this mayor is in charge of the biggest city in Michigan. This mayor when elected brought an aura of excitement, youth and a personality that could help the city move forward and begin to revitalize.


If you have read some of my qualityg sayings you will know that I said, the first priority of a new leader is putting together his/her own top team. It must be cohesive. It must have aim. In addition, if you are young and have limited experience in running a large city or corporation, it is vital to access your strengths and fill your weaknesses with good people.

This mayor built a strong cohesive team and they do have an aim, they just don't have any idea what they are doing. Unfortunately, the city is in financial turmoil, and the easiest way to fix this problem is to cut heads and services.

What astonishes me most, no it's not the fact the mayor has hired high school friends in key positions with no experience (facts are well documented), and no, it's not the fact he has the highest paid bodyguards in the nation, in fact I think he has the only bodyguards in the nation for mayors. What grinds me the most is the fact that all integrity has been lost through countless scandals and the fact that the mayor's office (why does a bodyguard make more than a police officer) nor the city council is taking any cuts to lead by example. In fact the city council is asking for a 4 percent raise in their budget. How ridiculous when the property owners will be getting a higher tax on property sales. By the way, this city has a foreclosure rate that is well beyond 50 percent.

I always chuckle when I hear the mayor state "I used to be a football player" when he feels threatened or wants to act tough. Maybe he was a quarterback, since he has to be surrounded by big tough guys. NOT! he was a lineman, and he must be pushing 275 pounds or more.

4/18/05 - I just read a short article on who are the "worst" mayors in the United States by Time Magazine. Guess who is one of the top three?

instructor

While out walking my dogs the other day I came across one of the girl's I used to coach when she was in grade school. I asked her how it was going and she said "I hate college (largest public university in Michigan), the instructors treat you like a number, just last week my instructor changed the rules for grading in the middle of the semester. When I asked why, he said because he could."

How many of you or you're children run into this situation. Countless instructors in every level of education run their classrooms like fiefdoms and they are the duke/duchess. King Tenure protects them.

qualityg says:

Education, particularly some college academia's with letters after their name anger me with their self-indulgence and insecurity about anyone else that may have an opinion in their subject area and arrogance. Just because they know a subject well doesn't make them smarter, well maybe in their area of expertise, however, it does not give them the right to intimidate (grades) or teach by absolute power to a captive audience (classroom).

ceo

Nothing gets me more excited than to read another scheming, cheating absolute power ceo got his/her just rewards. It really pains me to know he/she can't show their face at the country club (they can surely still afford the membership, it's the ego that humbles them).

I just thought of a way to make money, start an ex-ceo club. Let's name it "Bastards," where all assholes (ex kmart officials, enron sissies - lay and skilling, etc) are welcomed. bernie ebbers could be the party planner, after I saw the birthday party he held, and paid for it with company funds on TV he surely gets my vote.

Forbes ran a great article the other day "Mourning the Imperial CEO" check it out at:

http://www.forbes.com/investmentnewsletters/2005/04/15/cz_jhwt_0415soapbox_inl.html?partner=yahoo&referrer=

Please note, I am aware I did not capitalize the names of people or companies. They don't deserve my respect.


ABSOLUTE POWER AT ITS WORST – the bully 5/3/05


the bully

When I wrote the original post about absolute power on 4/16/05 I deliberately did not add “the bully” to my list. There has been so much written on the subject over the past few years it has become one of our society’s primary concerns about safety and our children.

Before I wrote about the bully, I wanted to find an example that would provide me the anger and emotion of what these kinds of “punks” do to defenseless individuals.


Well I did not have to find one; it found me in an article I read last Sunday (5/1/05). I get upset when people/system mess with children or old people. In this case it was a child.

Before reading the article, I saw a picture of a young girl that jumped out at me even before I read the article – “ Teaching Tolerance.” I could feel the despair and pain that was exhibited from her face. It was equally matched by the quotes from her mother within the story.

If you have read any of my other posts you know I’m concerned about children losing creativity for learning. Part of being a child is to explore new surroundings and environments and to learn by trial and error. I guess it’s OK to explore or learn as long as it’s the norm. Too far right or left and you will be criticized, if the subject is not widely understood, one can get hurt, as did Tempest Kayne Smith, she committed suicide.

If you are interested, you can learn more about this tragedy and how you can help at:

http://www.tempestsmithfoundation.org/

This tragic story and others like it should be a constant reminder for all of us to work together to stop this behavior in our schools.

qualityg says…

Note: the following statements are not meant to be a solution or a remedy for handling ‘the bully,” it is intended to describe one person’s experience – mine.

I have met many bullies in my time and have grown to deal with them determining on the circumstances. During my formal school years I confronted them, being small in stature, myself and others were often targets. When I confronted them they thought I knew something or I was crazy. They were correct on both accounts.

You see, it was a win/win situation for me, and a lose/lose situation for ‘the bully.” The reason being, he was expected to win by intimidation or force. Fortunately, I had many friends who were also victims of the occasional bully; at least we could stick together. That was not the case for Tempest, she was alone when attacked by the bullies, she had no friends or adult school supervision that understood her or who could protect her from the constant ridicule. Unfortunately we have seen tragedy after tragedy in the news when one veers from the so-called norm.

In the military there were many type types of bullies, the worst of course was the serviceman/servicewoman that outranked you in authority (remember when I wrote Hierarchy does not equal Intelligence).

Those bullies reminded me of the kids who always got picked on in school and went on to become cops, or should I say they became bullies because they could.

I would be remiss to not state that I served under some of the best military leaders one could ask for in times of turmoil and strife. Captain Thomas Meeks (decorated chopper pilot) was one of those leaders; he did not tolerate his officers or any other person to ridicule or use their authority to browbeat his men. Captain Tom treated us with respect, dignity, integrity and honesty (isn’t it sad I say this as if it’s not the norm). He followed military rules and regulations that made sense, but he also understood some of them depended on the situation and what kind of soldier he was dealing with at the time.

When he gave an order we didn’t follow it because we had too, we did it because we wanted too!

For those bullies that continued with their absolute power, well in those days….

The work place brought out all kinds of bullies, of course the hierarchical, the screamer, the tyrant, and sometimes the bully was all of them at once.

Earlier in my career I put up with that kind of behavior because of the responsibility to my company, my boss, my team and my family. I was a loyal employee who thought eventually “the bully” would be discovered and removed (no I don’t need any swamp land in Florida). Besides, I usually just told myself they were assholes and couldn’t help being ignorant.

My tolerability for that kind of leadership has become very thin in recent years. I no longer have the loyalty, but I’m still responsible for my team and my family. However, to remain totally silent would not be qg style.

I always follow the mantra that Woodrow F. Call (Tommy Lee Jones) said in the TV mini series Lonesome Dove. “ I hate rude behavior in men, I won’t tolerate it.”

Not too long ago my team reported to a VP (let’s call him “John”) who was the hierarchical, the screamer, the tyrant, and sometimes the bully all at once. I was required to be on conference calls with him twice a week. The agenda was usually the same, team leaders report out the results numbers, get beat up, change the numbers, get beat up next week, change the numbers again to what they want and get an “Atta Boy” the following week. It was common knowledge that if you did not produce quickly you would be gone (moved to a “special” project, then moved out the door).

Because of budget restraints travel was not allowed, I never got the chance to meet this sweetheart face-to-face, all communications were by Email and Conference Calls and phone calls if you were dumb enough to pick the phone up without checking Caller ID.

Usually I sat in my office with my door closed and the speakerphone on mute and listened (often laughed at his antics), sometimes if he was on a tangent I would run down the hall to the men’s room and come back without missing a beat.

It’s always fun to hear your name come across the speakerphone to cause instant stress. Before I could even register what he was talking about I could hear my name any my team being bombarded as to why did you do this, how come the numbers were good last week but not this week (note: leaders like this will never understand variation). Don’t you #*&*# know what you’re doing? I finally was able to stop him by holding down the * key (usually meant someone had a question). John said “WHAT!” I was gonna quote Tommy Lee Jones, but instead, I said my team averages about 20 years service and they are experts in their field and I would appreciate it if you talked to us like adults, and then (I just had too) I said, you wouldn’t talk like that if we were sitting in the same room.

Oh boy! You could hear jaws hit the desk from around the country, he ignored my comment and went back to his tirade, and I hung up.

I don’t recommend using this tactic; after all, he has been promoted to a very high position for his leadership style, why should he change?

For some expert advice on dealing with a bad boss, please see:

http://www.freep.com/features/living/badboss1e_20050501.htm


updated 5/23/05

Power and control drive school bullies

http://www.freep.com/news/childrenfirst/bully23e_20050523.htm

But silent majority can stop torment, experts say

May 23, 2005

BY PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI and TERESA MASK

qualityg says... a good article keeping the focus on this problem in our schools.

update 8/16/05

Excellent article at Alyson Schafer's site on bullying - check it out @ Alyson Schafer Site

Alyson is a psychotherapist, parent coach and popular public speaker. She teaches parent education classes and works with parents one-on-one in her parent coaching practice.

qualityg says ...

"I am convinced that absolute power is the result of absolute fear. Those in charge are more afraid of losing their control than actually controlling the person or situation."





































Focusing on the Customer - Which One?


For years I have been educating and training on the importance of the internal customer/supplier partnership to a company’s overall quality strategy.
I developed models like the one below to graphically get my points across. Unfortunately many people have used the internal customer supplier partnership model as a means to hide defects and non-conformances of their input because they are representing the customer, or worse yet, they believe themselves to be “the customer” of the next in line process. Let me provide some examples that I have encountered on some of ventures over the last few months.

“Who told you to make that change in the system, I am your customer, you supply me with information, next time you make a change, make sure you get my OK before moving forward!”



and,


“I don’t care if the order was done incorrectly, the customer does not have service, the order was supposed to be turned up yesterday, and it’s not my job to baby sit the order through the system. My job is to sell and generate revenue, you’re job is to make it happen!”

On the surface these might seem like legitimate complaints, but when more information is provided it becomes a different story.

The first complaint took place was witnessed by many people and it was between two internal managers (peers), one from the Customer Service Center and one from IT. No rate paying customer or supplier was involved, but the service center manager was considering himself as the customer.

The second example was a conference call between a Sales Manager and a Customer Service Center Manager. While the Sales Manager was representing the best interest of the customer, she failed to realize the input order that originated from her department was wrong and it caused delays in processing and a missed due date. The Center Manager knowing the order was wrong returned it back to the field.

Both examples have the same root cause at work and that is the notion of being an “internal customer.” The quality concept for referring to “internal customers” must be rethought. We all know the customer is always right, and the customer comes first, and the customer is king, but which customer. There is only one, and that is the rate-paying customer. Everyone else in the internal supplier chain must represent the true customer, not himself or his or her department.

While the internal customer model has provided a service for identifying process owners, it also has caused a number of concerns.

Concern No. 1: The current internal customer mindset has created a confrontational servitude attitude.

The original quality concept of an internal customer/supplier partnership was intended to create an atmosphere that our internal next in process should be treated like a customer and we should be treating each other with respect. Unfortunately, many people believe that because we pay suppliers to provide a service they should do what ever we ask, and that they owe us everything we request. While this may be warranted in certain case externally, it should not be the way we conduct business internally.

The mindset should not be, “You are here to supply me,” but rather, it should be “We are here to supply our customer. How can we work together to accomplish this goal?”

Concern No. 2: Only a few of us have direct customer contact with the external customer.

While this is concept is true, it can cause trouble when folks start thinking that because they don’t have direct contact with the customer, their work doesn’t impact the customer the same as a customer service agent or salesperson. Does the process person who writes the procedures by which others use for service order provisioning have an impact on the customer? Do project managers and their teams when implementing new systems have impact on the people who need these systems to serve our customers?

All employees have an impact on our customers; some are more difficult to gage than others are. For example, when I was a Payroll Manager it was my group’s job to pay our employees correctly 100% of the time. Every time we paid someone wrong and they had to call the payroll office that took time away from them to do their jobs. I didn’t want employees on the phone with my people; I wanted them on the phones with our customers.

Concern No. 3: While the internal customer model has been effective in identifying the next in process customer, it may cause barriers to implementing breakthrough efficiencies.

The current order provisioning process may be adequate for identifying next in process customers and negotiating wants and needs, but what happens when we become so entrenched in serving the next in process customer that we don’t recognize we have created a very good manual sequential chain of events. I believe this is what has happened to our current ordering process. It was built on the premise that as long as there wasn’t an overload of orders the number of people currently in the process could handle the work. However, this type of thinking also results in throwing more people and resources at the problem, rather than looking for ways too efficiently improve the process.

An analogy that comes to mind is an old western movie where the barn is burning and all the ranch hands and neighbors gather in a long line to pass buckets of water to put out the fire. What are really required are a fire hose and a strategic number of trained people performing many activities at the same time to save the barn.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Why I Still Like Girls Basketball – Season 2 (updated 3/14/08) - Be Humble Be Confident - A Great Season!

7/7/07

At this time last year I began working more closely with the Team that was already accomplished winners both on and off the court. I became more excited as the practices, camps and games went on during last year's season.

We have lost six Seniors and one Assistant Varsity Coach. All of these players (DF, ES, LS, SM, SS & KD)- Donut) brought individual special qualities to the team that will be missed in many ways. Losing a Coach the caliber of JB will have lasting effects until a new coach is hired and creates her own legacy of being devoted, role model, mother, humble and honest to the girls each and every year.

Below are two posts from last season. Click to read...

http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2006/12/quality-coachingleadership-why-i-like.html

http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2006/10/story-of-fred-stinky-moose.html

Second Season - 2007 - 2008




This season started back in January when I started working with our point guard who was coming off a season ending ACL injury (she was also going to rehab therapy with the coach).

It was to soon for her to run or lift heavy weights so I built some homemade weights and we started lifting two times a week at school and she did her own work at home. All of the lifting was done from a chair so all the tension and pressure was on her upperbody.

In February we started with our official weight, speed and agility training. There was a group of five 9th graders who came to just about every practice (2X a week) and displayed a remarkable freshness and devotion (plus strength & talent) that resulted in a nucleus that will be very good for the next four years. Most of our other players were involved in Spring Sports (Softball State Champs (http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2007/06/quality-school-quality-parents-quality.html), Soccer and Track). I can't wait until we are all together again.


There were a few Varsity Players (except for the Hawk, she comes most of the time) that showed up every now and then and there is one Senior Varsity Player who shows leadership, courage, work ethic and special abilities every time she comes to practice. She is what Basketball is all about.

School ended in June and the coach ran a very successful two-week camp (5th & 6th, then 7-9th). I could not believe the talent of many of the girls and their willingness to learn new drills and techniques. The most drastic change for most was learning a new way to shoot that will pay big dividends if one practices what one was taught. Twice a week practice continuous with a concentration on new offenses and defenses with the girls who show up.


7/15/07
The court case (http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2007/06/us-supre-court-did-not-challenge.html) that changed the girls basketball season to the Winter and girls volleyball to the Fall has caused many unwelcoming problems, especially practice time and gym space.
However, the biggest problem is the complacency being showed by many of the players. Because official practice does not start until November instead of August they feel they have extra time before summer workouts should begin. WRONG!
More time means more practice to get better and work on off season (this is where you pass others in skill & development) improvements.
Many want to shoot better and leave it to the coaches to make them better. WRONG! Coaches can show you the correct technique and drills but it is up to the individual player at this level to self-improve. "Self" is the key word, you can't expect the coaches or your teammates to push you to the next level of play, that has to be done with internal fortitude (i.e., off season workouts).
In two weeks we go to team camp and will compete against some of the best teams in the state. We are going to get thumped because many of the girls are not in shape and many of them don't know the offensive and defensive systems. The Coach will have to rely on a basic offense and defense just to stay in the game.
There are so many opportunities this year to earn minutes because of graduation and there are only 1-2 girls at the present time taking advantage. Time will tell if others wake up in time.


7/24/07

The intensity at practice over the past week has picked up. Perhaps the message the coach sent with bringing some players up who work hard did the trick. The sad part some will still not respond because of complacency.

We are heading to MSU Camp on Thursday and the Team is excited. The only thing worrying me is an injury that has healed very well may take more time for the player (leader) to play at full speed. She is such a competitor I just don't want to see her get disappointed.

The same thing was on my mind last year when our senior guard had an injury that drove her (also a leader) "NUTZ" because she could not play at full speed. I felt so bad for her because she worked so hard her entire HS Basketball carrier. The good news she came back before the season started and played a major role in our team last year.

We have a very talented team with the potential to have 2 or 3 of the girls play Division I or II when they graduate. We are not as deep as last year so we have to be in the best shape when the season starts in November.


Let the games begin...
8/2/07 - MSU CAMP



MSU CAMP
Seven Games – 4 Good, @ OK and 1 Stinker. Overall games rating B-. Not bad considering the coach is implementing a new offense this year. We did no pressing and played mostly straight up M-T-M and 1-3-1 Zone Defenses.

Our top 6-7 players played well and can hold their own with any team. Beyond that we have a big gap in experience at the Varsity Level. There will be a big group competing for the remaining varsity spots.

A couple of nice surprises from our freshmen that played extremely well and held their own each game they played at the varsity level. More importantly they created a spark throughout the varsity team with their intensity and hard work. Perhaps the twice a week workouts since April had something to do with their play.

Beyond the games everyone (including coaches) had a good time. The coaches discussed basketball well into the night. Hopefully the girls grew closer in most cases and our team leader is rapidly learning the joys and PAINS of being a team captain. The coaches have complete faith in her ability to lead this team. She is a very special player/person and the team is lucky to have her in this position.



My main concern from the camp is that our top seven players are NOT disciplined enough to stay out of foul trouble early in the game. It has yet to be proven they can not foul in a consistent manner that won't harm us during the regular season and playoffs.
Michigan High School Athletic Association MHSAA
- Promoting Educational Athletics


SO what is next? The Dead Zone, I say Dumb Zone. It’s hard to determine what this is since the MHSAA rules and regulations has put everything backwards with the federal ruling changing our sports seasons. See my post http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2007/06/us-supre-court-did-not-challenge.html for more on this ruling and the reason why.

Let me start out by stating, “You officials are STUPID.” Look at the title “Promoting Educational Athletics.” Your rules “try” to protect the very, very, very select few athletes that may play at the next level. You have endorsed one piece of the whole and exploited it where the system in now in a state of flux. One piece cannot be greater than the whole no matter what the price or rules or regulations you set up.

You have forgotten what High School Sports is all about. It’s companionship, learning how be adults and being challenged in a positive way that will relate to the classroom and more importantly life. Your rules limit and harm the 99+ percent of the student population at the expense of a few that might be recruited for the next level. Backwards and Sad, very Sad.

Michigan’s rules are ridiculous compared to other states. For example we played a team from Chicago Illinois who has already played 50 games this season before the MSU Camp and plays 30 regular games in their season. We have had a handful of practices and no games and we play a 20 game regular season schedule. Guess what team dominated the camp? Why did MSU allow them to come to the camp? Money I suppose.

I talked to my son's H.S. Cross Country Coach the other day and their new rules are even worse than ours. He can no longer time or have a clipboard during the summer to get his team in shape. CROSS COUNTRY is all about conditioning, C’mon MHSAA (MHASS).

He also can no longer run in a street race that he liked to do with his team to promote team and community support. Why? I have no idea.

SO what will the result of all this be? AAU, AAU, AAU! And, Freshmen and Junior Varsity Games will be officiated like AAU, AAU, AAU!
The Hills Are Alive with the "SOUND OF GRUNTING"

updated 8/24/07 -


Sometimes you got to do what you got to do, even if it stinks!




Updated 09/15/07

This past week we started back on a regular schedule. The MHSASS Rules only allows three players with a ball and coach. We abide by this rule and bring in three players (those not playing a Fall Sport) every 30 minutes for some individual workouts twice a week.
The Coach has developed some really intense workouts for the bigs, middles and smalls. I must admit the girls who are attending looked good and as always did not complain, as each drill was both learning and conditioning workout.

Speaking of conditioning the girls have a running workout once a week and this past week they chose to meet me at the Hills I run at once a week.

It is not a high hill but it is long and has a good vertical side for running up and down. I named the Hills Agony & Misery after two mountains I had to trek up and down during basic training when I was in the Army at Fort Knox Kentucky.
I hope the ladies enjoyed the run as much as I did (they said I had to teach them the course). We ascended and descended 20 times over the next 45 minutes doing different drills to develop all muscles for basketball.
I think the biggest obstacle were the mosquitoes and the Adams Family (my name for kids who dress Gothic) perched on top of the hill acting like punks (they eventually left).

I was disappointed more players did not show up but for those that did they can proudly say




video

Sunday Night Shootout

We started our Sunday Night Shootout two weeks ago and the players are starting to grasp the new shot technique (CPSM) that was introduced at the end of last season.

The changes are few and to the point using the method that was taken from a number of shot gurus around the country and molded into a new shot form that is ideal for women's basketball.

The shot format we use on Sunday Night's is based on shot technique and repetition. Old shot habits are tough to break especially when the training goes at game speed.

I am very pleased the girls took my suggestions and are now mastering the CPSM. The off season rules indicate we can only have three girls and a coach on the floor at the same time so this allows me to do some good one on one coaching.


HOMECOMING

Last Friday night was Homecoming and two of our senior players were on the court. They really looked beautiful and I could tell they were having a lot of fun. Well, one of the girls won and it was so nice to see the two of them hugging and so happy for each other. It was really fun sitting in the "Waldo" seats watching all the pictures being taken. I especially liked watching how proud their parents were as flash bulbs erupted around mid field.

Two great athletes and two beautiful ladies.

Oh yeah the Football team won beating an arch rival and going to 5-0 on the season.




Next ... It's Showtime

Updated 10/28/07

Three @ a Time
For the past two months we have been working hard having "Three players @ a Time" come in every half hour twice a week, plus shooting the "Cabrini Pure Shot Method (CPSM)" on Sunday nights.
Click on Pics to Enlarge The girls are lucky to have a coach that has a passion for the game. Many coaches will not start conditioning or practicing until the end of October or beginning of November.

The players that have been coming to the practices and shooting have been put through some tough workouts and conditioning drills. Their hard work has paid off because most of the players have improved and know the plays.

In addition for for those players that played Varsity last year know what it takes to get ready for tryouts on Monday November 5th. You best be in shape, worked on your personal skills and shooting and did I mention be in shape.


Cabrini Pure Shot Method (CPSM)

We have made some minor and major changes since the beginning of the year to a number of the players shot technique. For those girls who have practiced on their own to discard their old style for the new format have made some big changes. However, for those that have waited for the weekly Sunday shootings to work on their shot are way behind their peers.


The new method is a well researched technique that combines many of the drills and shooting form from the best shooting coaches that I could find and learn their method. The proof will come during the season to see if our shooting and free throw percentages have improved.

TRYOUTS Monday November 5, 2007

This is going to be an interesting tryout to see if the season change from fall to winter has affected change. I feel there will be good and bad. The good are those players that continued to work on their game and conditioning since the MSU camp last June. The bad will be those that did not and those playing Fall sports that did not work on their game during the Fall season on their own.

One of last year's leader and captian (DONUT) shared the following quotes with me that really apply to this coming this week. Thanks, KD!

"Discipline is doing what you really don't want to do,
so you can do what you really want to do."

and,
"Hardwork BEATS Talent, When Talent Doesn't Work Hard."
Updated 11/11/
A very tough week for the players both mentally and physically. Many were worried about making the team and then making their mile time and ball handling reps in time on Saturday.

The tryout lasted three days with one player being sent down to JV. The player sent down has the potential to be a very good player but it will take more conditioning and commitment not just during the season.
The person who had it the hardest was our JV coach who had to cut a number of players because we will not have a freshmen team this year. It was a very difficult job, probably the hardest task a coach has to do each year. The cuts were made fairly and she deserves a lot of credit how she handled the situation.
Most High School Varsity Sports run at least 6-8 months each year with different degrees of workouts. 100% during season and at 75% during off-season to make and start on a varsity team.
The coach kept a larger number of players than he wanted but he rewarded some girls with their hard work and commitment. Many coaches would not do this but our coach considers the complete picture (this year/next year, potential, loyalty, chemistry, etc) when keeping and cutting players. The team also voted for captains and voted in three outstanding players and people who the coach has complete confidence in to lead the team.


It seemed overcrowded this week with all the girls in the gym at the same time (rules allow us only three at a time during the off season). The coach predicted last year that he was going to have to do more teaching than last year because of the experience on last year's team. His prediction has come true and this always causes concerns when the first game is only two weeks away.
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Great News! We have a new Varsity Assistant coach who joined the staff this week. She is a former standout player who played the game with intensity and intelligence. She will make an immediate impact on our team. Welcome A.D. Great choice great person.

I am not worried because he has a plan and he is not afraid to change it when time and execution tell him to do so, this is called flexibility and adapting to change and this must be part of any leaders skills in their management or coaching toolbox.
Saturday was the first time trial and BTKid and KRoo completed all events in required reps and times. By virtue of a wider margin (more reps) won the first inaugural Pistol Pete Shirt Contest.

Next ---> The Scout Gets Ready and the Team awaits our first game


12/03/07
Week One – The Wait is Over
It seemed like forever for the first game of the season to start and it has been a busy week with the team having our first two games and scouting three opponents’ teams too. Not to mention Team Poster Pictures and Team Shoes.

Our games showed both our strengths and our weaknesses. The best part is all of the weaknesses can be corrected through planning, practice and the proper player matchups. The coach has a handle on it and will put everyone in the proper order.


This year will be very interesting because of the makeup and experience of our team. The coaches believe this team can go as far as it wants to collectively. It will require all the girls to be on the same wavelength, determination and commitment to team goals.

We have great talent and we need all players to fulfill their rolls and play defense with intensity.
The week brought us two wins. However, our schedule gets very tough for the rest of the season starting this Tuesday & Thursday.

12/10/07 - We Need More R & R

Two tough games last week. While driving home from the team’s last victory I was thinking of one of the old Quality Terms of Replicate and Repeatability.

I was actually thinking of this phrase as a means of getting our shooters to understand that shooting a basketball takes a touch or a feel that needs to be solidified and used time and time again.

It’s the same for winning games, what did we do well and how de we bottle it going forward.

Finding the right mix does it and ingredients that make a stable force or movement that can be relied upon time and time again. We must Replicate our recipe and then do it time and time again until a better one is found and that is called Repeatability or Reproducible and becomes second nature that only needs to be altered when it is time to improve the method/system.

Coaches must be careful not to Tamper or Alter the system time and time again when a Special Causes (one time events, out of the ordinary like taking a different rout to work because the county was painting lines on the road you take home each day) pop in to the system.

Next Week – They Want Us Bad

12/14/07

I’m doing an early update this week because I will be out of town this weekend. We lost our game last Tuesday. We got beat BAD!

Not BAD because of the score (44-41), it was because we played BAD. 26 Turnovers and not running our offense by not swinging the ball around Side-Top-Side (STP). We even missed our last shot to tie the game.

We had no balanced scoring like we usually do and that will cost us in the future too if we don’t get to another level of speed on offense. We were running on empty.


Our defense was solid as we held their top scorer to 6 points and did not allow any other player to score more than 9 points.

When in Rome give credit to the Romulus. This game is turning in to a good rivalry since we beat them last year and now we are 1-1. We won’t see them again this year because they are a Class A Team and we are Class C Team.

We play our first league game this Friday night and we will come out "Swinging".

Next Week - Do Not Get Foleyed Again!

Updated 12/22/07 - I hate sitting on the bench!
A team shows character after a loss by going out and improving what was wrong. We had allot to improve on after 25 turnovers in our last game. With two wins this past week moving our record to 7 – 1 going into the Christmas break.

Working the ball around and being patient on offense has improved with some excellent balanced scoring.

The highlight has been our defensive pressure especially at the guard spot. We are fortunate to have a number of skilled guards who understand defensive pressure. We have a way to go but it continues to improve and I think the players can see how well in your face defense (without fouling) causes turnovers.

One of the main reasons I no longer like sitting on the bench is because of the comments I hear from the stands (parents) and opposing coaches who act like fools (I have done it too). It is also very hard for me to sit and watch one of our players go down from an illegal push or kick.


At least Coach AD has a plan from the Coach if I venture out to far. All I can say is I'm wearing a tight belt from now on

Last night I was reminded. We beat our opponents soundly and we shot great from the Free Throw Line (19/20). Throughout the game the opposing coaches were all over the refs telling them every play what calls they missed. This is normal in a game but to concentrate on the refs as to why you are losing and not your coaching is lame.

They were warned numerous times and continued to believe the game was called unfairly even when they were down by more than 20 points and we had more fouls called on us.

Another lowlife moment was when a player on the opposing side had enough of a parent screaming at her while he filmed the game from the stands. She actually started crying and yelled out at a teammate. Unfortunately many players cannot tune out parents and get frustrated. The worst part of this situation was the parent was the father of another player and blamed everyone but his daughter as to why they were losing. What A “Grinch” no what an “AH”

One Referee said it all as he ran by the opposing bench and got tired of the constant criticism when he said, “Coach, the reason you are getting beat is because you are getting out coached.” I have never heard truer words during a game.


Quote from Big John "The best part of doing the scorebook is being able to watch you on the bench."


I hate sitting on the bench!




It's Time To Duke It and Drive the GUT!

Next --> A Message to the Mega


Updated 12/30/07 - Message Sent


Last night was our final game for 2007. Our record is 8-1 and we look forward to our next game Thursday January 3rd.

We did send a message to the Mega League and we also sent one to ourselves. We talked about it this morning at practice.

“Be Humble, Be Confident” – we treat all opponents with respect and courtesy (humble), come to play because we are ready to go (confident).

It was good team effort (except Free Throw Shooting). Three of our players did not play in the game (I don’t count the short time AC was in the game). Other players got minutes that normally don’t and really stepped up and showed they are ready for more game action.

One of our coaches (AD) said some simple wise words this morning that the team needs to take to heart – “Don’t get out hustled and stop playing sloppy”. Simple words that have so much wisdom.

Next – Here we go again, another tough game that will test our character


Updated 1/6/08


Even though we lost our game our character test passed with good grades. We knew this would be our toughest game that we scheduled and indeed it was by far.

The team we played is well coached and has a history of good teams that spans many years. They played hard the whole game and made less mistakes. Not a flashy team but a well-rounded solid team from starters to the end of their bench. We were down by one at halftime and felt very confident because this is where we wanted to be our pre-game plan.

The opening five minutes of the third quarter spelled our doom as we made costly turnovers that were capitalized by our opponents. We lost 57-46.

We get another shot at this team in about 2 ½ weeks at their gym.

Playing a team two classes higher (based on student population) is always tough but that is why I like basketball because you can schedule these games to test your team and to player tougher opponents that will get you ready for the state playoffs were you play games only within your class.

We were rated number seven in the state last week so it will be interesting to see if we drop in the ratings. The team that beat us is in a higher league and has lost only one game in overtime to a team that is picked by many to be the state Class A Champions. No excuses they were better than us that night.

This week brings another challenge because we play three games in one week with back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday Nights.

The coach has declared this to be a “District Week” because we play a number of games in a short time frame and all of them are away. I don’t believe we scheduled this on purpose but it is something we should do each year to prepare us for our your end goals.

Half way through our season and we are 8-2.

Next ---> Another week, another new challenge!
Updated 1/14/08



Practice District Week???

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No, it is not time for Districts yet but the coach declared it our District week to see if we could handle three games in one week. Scheduling games this year has been a nightmare for many Ads trying to fit both Boys and Girls practice times and games into one week. Throw in the fact we are a grade school too and they play their games on our gym on weekends can also add havoc. Many props to T.K., for a great job.

Three grueling games and they were all away games. Tuesday night we played a good game and won by ten but it back and forth for much of the game. Our free throw shooting was good and we played good pressure M-T-M defense. It was a very long night because they moved our game time back by a ½ hour.
The hardest part to for most of the girls was not seeing the premier of “One Tree Hill.” It seemed like a One Tree Hill Episode when we practiced Thursday night in an old closed grade school gym that had a tile floor and funny working lights.

The next game was Friday night playing our rivals at their gym. I have attended many of these games over the years and the gym was rocking with noise and excitement. If anyone believes girls’ basketball does not draw a crowd then they need to see this rivalry. The lead went back and forth through the whole game. Each possession being critical and we pulled the game out by three points. On paper we are a much higher rated team, but when this game is played you can throw out the statistics. We only missed four free throws and like Tuesday’s game they were a big factor. Another late night as the coach told the team to get some sleep before tomorrow night’s game.

Before our game on Saturday we had team pictures and then we loaded the bus. It was obvious we were all walking a little slower than normal. Like most good athletes each time we asked if anyone was tired they all stated no, some said stiff but not tired. We started the game OK but it soon became apparent that most of the players became sluggish by the end of the first quarter.
Our opponents jumped on this opportunity and applied pressure and played as physical as they could. Reaching fouls (another sign of slow feet) got us into to trouble especially when they were making them right and left. We struggled and were down by nine at halftime. The coaches challenged the girls at halftime and they responded by taking the lead in the 4th quarter and we won by four points.

The worst part of this game was the fact that we made 16 out of 36 free throws. 20 MISSES! Most of the shots were in a one on one situation and they came up short and many missed because of lack of concentration. We cannot let our inconsistency at the line continue if we are to compete for the rest of the season.

This was a special week because of the three games but we also celebrated some birthdays, test passing and a visit at practice from the Whammy!! I also got to talk to one of my all time favorite player (KU).

The saddest part of the week is when a former player broke her arm at a game. Heal soon K.D. we love you.

Next Week --–> League Title?


Updated 1/20/08 - "Sag" our way to the League Title


Sag - 1: to droop, sink, or settle from or as if from pressure or loss of tautnes


When you get to be older the "Sag" does not imply a good thing. But in basketball it pays to Sag under the correct circumstances when playing defense.


I have always been a believer in:





"Attacking weaknesses until they break or give up and at the same time executing strengths again and again until they break or give up."

While watching films this past week the coach discovered a few things, not so much about our opponents but what we need to do in order to apply pressure at the right time and at the right player. In basketball terms this means taking a chance. In order to gain something you must also give up something and not get burned in the process.


Side Note: Our Boys Freshmen Team lost two games this week by a very large margin. In both games they were full court pressed the whole game and their opponents took three point shots until the end of the game.


I don't need to go into all the classless acts like this because unfortunately it has happened time and time again. However, what I would like to say is the boys never gave up, they never once stopped playing hard and they played with heart. The boys reflect their coach, parents and school. I for one learned a lot watching these games from the playing of a few good men!

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Yes, we did win the game and the League Title

Next Week - Pony Time - Rematch - see update from 1/6/08






Updated 1/28/08
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Looking at the picture I posted last week with the Lion (us) getting ready to pounce on the Horse (them) I was hoping that nature would take its course. Well the pony horse stomped the lions and it was as ugly as can be and nothing can be learned from this game except watching a coach keep his cool and knowing when to say NEXT GAME!

Well, next game turned out to be as bad as the first game of the week, not in terms of score but in terms of the coaching. It can be said that a coach is also a teacher but in the end the coaching must prevail.

It can also be said that it stinks in order for me to wake up sometimes when I know an outcome is soon to happen. My job is to understand trends and I have failed since the Christmas break. The trend was a funk by both players and coaches. Sure we had our moments (like one practice, parts (quarter) of a game) of looking intense and playing hard but it has not been sustained and the result is not enough execution and out of fighting shape.

So what do I mean by execution and not in fighting shape. In the case of a basketball player this means doing what I have done (not just learned) in practice during the game (heat of the battle) and being able to do it for the WHOLE game.

We are in shape, but not fighting shape.

Analogy – In boxing one can get in shape by running, skipping rope, hitting the bags, etc., but if one does not spar (practice) at the same intensity (actually more) and apply their knowledge and conditioning to winning the fight they may get by for awhile (rounds = quarters) but not for the distance (game).

Players can do sprints and drills and run the floor but that is not basketball shape. Basketball shape can only be obtained by playing basketball in practice in game like settings. Stopping, starting, deflecting, diving, jumping, defending, etc., with rat like speed and agility is required at all times until the practice is over.

Following are some good quotes from last week’s practices:

"Game Days Are My Days Off" – AB
(Meaning - Games are a breeze compared to the intensity of our practices)



"We Miss The Twins" - AB & cc
“The Train Has Left The Station” – cc
Updated 1/31/08 - Poster Night
Poster Night is special, we get a large crowd that is made up mostly of grade school kids who idolize our players. After the game we set up tables where the coaches and players sit and sign the poster. This is a tradition and one the players really look forward to each year.

Plus we won the game!



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Next - Catholic High School League Championships - First Round
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Updated 2/2/08
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We won round one of the CHSL. Clearly the best game we have played this year. 75% efficient and effective. We are starting to peak and we need to keep the train going. The game was truly a team effort and our defense is getting more intense espacially at the guard level where we must win every battle.
It was a good bus ride home with some some "fine" music from the team choir - NOT!!!!
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We don't play again until next Sunday for the Championship. The coach gave the team a few days off to rest some legs. From here on out it is "Crunch Time."





Next - Two In A Row?


Updated 2/10/08 - Catholic Champs Again
Until last year our school never won a Catholic Division Championship. Now we have won two years in a row with a hard fought win that ended in a 46 – 43 victory over the Irish. This game is so much fun for the team because we play before a large crowd that is shown on local TV and they play in a college arena.


The school has a good fan base and leadership from Father, Principal, A.D. and many teachers and students. Special thanks to our JV Coach and team and a BIG Thank You to Big John for his contimued support and friendship to the coaches and team. It’s been a grueling week with three of our starters sick with the flu and still not 100% percent at game time.
We started out the game a little slow and battled back by half time to be within one point or ahead by a point, all I know is that it was close. We took the lead in the 3rd quarter and held it the rest of the way. Four turnovers in a row toward the end of the game brought the game within in one point but we got some clutch free throws and key rebounds to secure the game.
One of our players made the All Academic Team (my favorite individual award). Two made all Catholic and two made All League and two made Honorable Mention.

Special Props to the Coach for his Coach of the Year Award.

We have one more regular season game this Thursday and the State Tournament begins next Monday. There are still many areas we need to improve on and one of them is Free Throws.

Next – Here Come The Devils
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Updated 2/18/08 - Down go the Devils


Senior Night and End of Regular Season
We played our last regularly scheduled game this past week and we also celebrated senior night honoring our seniors on the team.

Senior night is always special because the underclass players buy gifts and write poems about the seniors. There was even a Team Rap poem for one of the senior’s but I could not understand the words.

We won the game but our stating center did not play and our starting point guard and swingman were in foul trouble and both fouled out of the game. Give credit to our bench and the coach making the correct substitutions. We had close to 30 fouls called against us and 15 fouls were called on our opponents.

Current Record 16 - 4

Today starts the State Tournament. We are hosting our District and our first game is tonight. The coaches feel really good about our chances and if we play consistently and keep the turnovers to a minimum we will make a good run.

Saturday we went to see one of our former players play in a college game. It was really a nice day even though her team lost but how can you complain when one of your player's moves up to the next level and is getting a good education too!

Next - The Real District Week
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Updated 2/24/08 - District Champs!
Three games, three wins. Each game was different from the standpoint that we won as a team but we also had a couple of girl’s step-up when some of our starters were in foul trouble. And one player injured.

The bench played a huge part in our wins and that is what it takes to win the state title. One of our starting players is the personification that hard work pays off. Last year she missed the state run because of a disabling injury (ACL) that took many months of recuperation and rehab. During that time she worked hard and never let up. Each game she gets better and realizes that she would be no where near the player she is today without dedication and hard work.

On our team a player can not hide, the coaches or the film will find you and it is not a brow beating but a learning tool to get each player better and reach your potential as a player. Please understand that both positive and understanding better is what I mean, not catching someone being bad, but also someone being good so we can replicate the situation. “ Better and faster improvement can be made by learning a positive situation than by a negative one.” qg

This team is sticking together but we have the glue and the talent and the smarts to keep our focus on one game at a time.

Another team that works hard is our support team that announces and keeps our record books during the games. Big JN also comes to our away games and is an inspiration to the coaches and players for his selfishness and kindness that he brings to each game. Plus his wife is a great cook (SN).

Best quote of the week


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“Coach, do you know what time we are having practice tomorrow? It doesn’t matter if we don’t win the game tonight.” - MR

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Saturday Night was the Sweetheart Dance - How appropriate for our girls!Next - Regionals
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Updated 3/2/08

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A good week of practice and a two well-played Regional games provides us the championship and the opportunity to go to the Quarterfinal game this Tuesday. When I look back on the season it’s hard to believe there is only one week left with the Semi-final game for our class (B) being played Thursday and the Finals on Saturday March 8th.

Elite Eight as the term is called when March Madness hits the Basketball Courts. For the past two weeks we have had a calm, cool, collective confidence building as each practice and game ends. We stick to our motto to:

"Be Humble, Be Confident"

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This winter has gone by fast and at times it’s been bitter cold with heavy winds and snow blowing and it is not yet over. Even this past Wednesday we had a snowstorm but like our team it left a calm beautiful scene confident of its ability and providing a strong presence for all to see.


Our opponent on Tuesday was in the Final Four last year so they come experienced and looking for more as they filmed our Regional Final game last Thursday. However, that is OK because when you look at the teams we have played this year and in the playoffs it’s clear that we are a tram that has planned and is delivering on the goals set last year when our schedule was created to play upper class opponents that are rated teams in both Class A and B. We have gone through the Catholic league, The Mega League, The Huron League and recently in the Districts and Regional three Detroit Teams.

We Are Ready!

Next - Quarterfinals and Finals
Updated 3/6/08

The last three days have been a roller coaster for the team. An emotional Quarterfinal win by one point Tuesday to beat Napoleon and a two-point loss to Galesburg – Augusta today in a Semi-Final (final four) game with 5 seconds left on the clock.
As in any sport to lose your last game and to know that your seniors (AB, AC, KA, KM, MK, TR) move on to their next chapter in life a coach can only hope that you played a small part in providing the players with the qualities that help make sports so important in life.






Hard work and passion for what you do will provide the foundation, and the love the players have for each other and the game (life) will provide the strength to encounter and handle all situations in life.


To be Humble and Be Confident are the two keys for success. Our girls have both!

Next – A team dinner tomorrow night and our banquet on Monday.

I would like to thank you all for the kind emails and support you have provided the team this year.

Thanks to Father J, Principal S, Coach R and AD K (and staff) who allowed me to be part of such a great school.


To my fellow coaches (MM, AD) and support folks (JN, TS, MH) who are the best at what they do and being such good friends.

To the Coach – a perfect example of what it is to



“Be Humble and to Be Confident!” even in defeat.

Banquet

It's difficult (Seniors) for me to go to banquets but I really do like seeing the girls turn into special young ladies!