Okay – here’s a not so secret thing about me – I LOVE Denver Broncos football! And with a stadium skyline like this one (yes, I took this photo!), how could you not?
Some of the self-proclaimed “Colorado natives” look down on me because I didn’t care about the Broncos until I moved to Denver in 2011. So I don’t have memories of the John Elway days and can’t speak to Broncos history before 2011. Some people say I’m not a “real” fan because of this.
Sure, I love the team spirit of football and the sport in general. I took a trip to Lambeau to watch a game despite not having a connection to the Packers or the Seahawks. And I went to a game in Phoenix just to see a new stadium and have the experience. And I could have just been a fan of the Falcons or Redskins – both of whom were my previous home sports teams. But I’m not. I chose the Broncos.
So the question becomes – why am I such a fan?
My 2011 move to Denver was the third move of my career – on my own – to a brand new city with no connections, no friends, no family. And this move was even harder because in my new job I traveled three weeks a month – so making friends was tough.
When I moved to Denver, though, I instantly felt a love that I didn’t feel in Atlanta, Virginia Beach, or DC. And I was tired of starting over in city after city, so I wanted to make Denver home. One of the ways I could do that was go all-in on the hometown team.
My love of Broncos football goes much deeper than just passion for the sport and comraderie. It goes to a purpose of building connection and making Denver my new home – not just the next city.
Passion and Purpose in Lean Leadership
How do purpose and passion intersect in my pursuit of impactful Lean leadership?
I do love Lean and the two pillars of Respect for People and Continuous Improvement. There is something about the simplicity of it all that I can wrap my head around and resonates with me. Plus, I’ve seen it work. Back in the day when I was chasing numbers there was this thing we called the “suck cycle”. Essentially, what goes up must come down.
When I started practicing Lean and we were getting early results, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Each year I would say, “well, surely we won’t continue to improve at this rate next year.” And “surely we’ve captured all of the low hanging fruit and it will become harder to improve.” But it wasn’t becoming harder. The improvements kept happening year after year after year. And each year, we had more fun, too!
Now, this isn’t to say that it was easy. It wasn’t. And we failed – a lot! But we were learning and failing forward at a rate I had never seen before.
And then there’s purpose. When team members are engaged at work and asked their opinions and invested in to develop their skills and competencies and are a part of something bigger than just the job, then those team members go home to be better spouses, parents, and neighbors in their communities. And when people have deeper connection, it makes the world a more caring place. It’s a ripple effect.
What I’ve seen as true Lean Leadership, cemented in the foundations of Respect for People and Continuous Improvement – and focused on developing people and creating more value – is a tremendous way to make the world of work more human and start this ripple effect.
The impact managers have, not just on the business, but on the world is tremendous. And this is what drives my pursuit of impactful Lean leadership – this intersection of passion and purpose.
I’ve seen it first-hand. When we do this right, we help make peoples’ lives better. And I don’t know if there’s any greater legacy than that.