A news story the other day caught my eye and got me to thinking.
One of the aims of the Olympics is to raise interest in taking part in sports – but it seems some people are pushing themselves a little too hard.
A gadget helpline has been receiving calls from people wanting to know how to set their cycling and rowing machines to keep up with Olympians.
Yes, people are sitting at home and then, without any real training, trying to be "instant Olympians" on their exercise machines.
Ben Titchmarsh, of the Gadget Helpline, says their role is to help
people when devices such as phones or iPods fail – and that they do not
cater for faulty exercise equipment. But since the start of the Olympics, they have had around 50
calls from people wanting to keep up with the elite athletes they are
watching on TV.
He said: "One woman said she really wanted to set her rowing
machine so she could do the same number of strokes per minute as the
Olympic athletes. She was obviously sitting in front of her TV and entering into the spirit of it all." He added: "Another caller wanted to adjust his exercise bike so
he was cycling at the same number of miles per hour as the Olympians. And even though the track and field events hadn’t yet started,
people were also asking about settings for their jogging machines."
Obviously it doesn’t work that way.
Sarah Hardman, a physiologist from the English Institute of Sport who
has worked with Team GB’s rowing squad added: "It’s great that people
are being inspired by the Games and the performances taking place
across different sports, but each individual needs to know their
"Olympic athletes have been in full time training for years and progressively work towards the standards they achieve."
And once again we can draw a lean lesson from this story, and especially that last line. Real lean manufacturing takes a lot of time and effort. You may hire one of the multitude of consultants to come in and put on a kaizen event, and you may realize some rapid savings. But you won’t be lean, and what little improvement you realize won’t be sustainable. Real lean takes years, a deep commitment from management, a major investment in training, and the guts to keep the faith even after inevitable initial failures.
For example runners in the women’s marathon on Sunday would reach speeds of 12-13mph.
"That’s a phenomenal speed, and most people won’t be able to keep up with it for more than a few seconds, let alone two hours.
Just like we want a lean transformation to last more than a few seconds.