Seinfeld on Startups: Really Tight Pants
“You may have something there, George”
“The Chaperone” was the first episode of season 6. I’m sure you all remember its debut on September 22, 1994. Hard to believe its already been 20 years since this classic. We have Jerry dating Miss Rhode Island, Elaine looking for work, and Kramer filling the role of Miss America coach. It sounds like just another day in the life, but don’t overlook Georgie-boy and his Kaizen process at work with the Yankees.
Kaizen is all about continuous improvement – with emphasis on the “improvement”. Never is that clearer than with Costanza’s attempt at creating a competitive advantage through team apparel. Testing and assessment is a big part of any Kaizen, Deming Cycle, or other PDCA-type process. George obviously missed that lesson during B-school.
Instead, his process became PDAS: Plan –Do – Act – Screw it Up. George isn’t alone – testing and assessment can be boring, expensive, and time consuming. Often they get overlooked as we enact change. What you end up with is Danny Tartabull in a slump, and a bunch of Yankee’s prancing around in uniforms sized for the Bad News Bears.
The lesson? Aside from never confusing the Assistant to the Traveling Secretary with the Hitting Coach, is that you have to build in assessment to any change process – no matter how small. Continuously innovating is a great idea – a must in our capitalist society – provided the change you enact is actually a good one. How do you know that without testing? As Showalter experiences, you can’t just rely on free advice and run with it. You’ll end up in really tight pants, and nobody wants that.
Dan Beenken is Director of the UNI Small Business Development Center