Clayton KershawOn June 18 the LA Dodgers played the Colorado Rockies and won 8-0. Clayton Kershaw, the pitcher for the Dodgers, pitched an almost perfect game as measured by the Bill James Game Score. The Dodgers had one error.

Let me be clear, I have not been a baseball fan. However, I seem to be finding some valuable lessons from the game these days. I find the Bill James Game Score to be a lean way of looking at pitching excellence. The game score assigns points to the activities or results directly controlled or influenced by the pitcher. Kershaw scored 102 compared to a maximum potential of 114. Typically pitchers score around 50. The Bill James Game Score keeps a clear focus on the Ideal State for the pitching process.

Do you know what the Ideal State Game Score is for the processes you own? It seems that OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) percentage is one way to measure where a process is compared to Ideal State. When calculated correctly, this provides the attainment of the perfect operation considering process availability, process productivity, and first pass quality. 100% is ideal. Scores over 80 have been attained. Scores of 50 -60 are typical.  High scores are achievable but only with disciplined attention to the process control points that deliver good results. While OEE is typically used in manufacturing, the approach could be used in in a variety of transactional business processes as well.

I worked for a company that reported Value Add Variances and % Theoretical performance. We were focused on delivering processes that were as close to the zero waste ideal as possible. To achieve high scores the processes had to be delivered at peak each hour. We knew what peak looked like, and we knew what was required to achieve it.

Ideal State needs to be defined for every person and every process. Having a vision statement on the wall is not enough to generate improvement.  People need to know what the “Ideal State Game Score” is for what they do, for what their team does. Knowing what the score is compared to ideal creates tension to move forward towards ideal.

Let’s not forget that the Ideal State Game Score is not just about the outcome – zero accidents, perfect quality, perfect delivery, or zero waste. There must be excellence in the “how” as well as the “what.” A pitcher has to manage 7 different “how” components to approach perfect score. Does your Ideal State Game Score consider how the outcome is achieved?

Is Ideal State attainable – probably not if you have set your expectations in the right place. Is it possible to get close? In baseball Matt Cain scored the 100th game score of 100 points or higher in June 2012. Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson had the most 100 point scores with four apiece.

Without the Ideal State defined and measureable, any team may do well enough to win but may fall short of excellence and the continued drive to move closer.