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Teaching Height

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/01/2017 | 11:28 AM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.


The NCAA March Madness hysteria is getting smaller in our rear-view mirror, but the new season (1917-1918) is only a couple of months away.  And, this is the time of year when hopeful coaches remind us, "You can;'t teach height!".

This usually turns out to mean that a team has a really tall player who would be faster if he did not stand with one foot planted on his other.  If every 7'2" DNA outlier were really all that exciting, he would be the second coming of Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lew Alcindor for those of another generation).  I think of the recruit at the Ohio State University who is described as "lumbering", for example, and the hopes that he can keep the excess 55 pounds off while he works on skills..

Fact is that height is not, in itself, the driver of high performance and dominant excellence.  Not since the Beanstalk was in middle school, anyway.  Nearly all of these genetic giants must learn how to play the game,  So, what can, and must, be taught is how to leverage height in the context of movement, position, tactics in pre-planned set plays and defense,

A critical factor in game performance cannot be measured with tapes and meters, but might be observed.  It is heart.  Desire.  Intensity. Understanding of the game.  Of course, heart without talent has its limitations, but talent without heart is, in Lean terms, another to add to the list of 8 Wastes.

Height without the heart is not a plus; it is, all to often an impediment, baffling those entranced by the possibility, however remote, of a flat-footed two-handed jam.

In our workaday supply chain management world, we often see (or hear) the equivalent of the supernaturally tall, the supernaturally smartest person in the room.  Hmmm . . .

Well, you can't teach smart.  But, you can gtach how to leverage intelligence for better analysis, improved communications, elevated decision-making, and a more appreciative perception by colleagues.

Smart without the context and focus of how to use knowledge for on-point insights is not a plus; it is, all too often, an impediment, tolerated by a vain hope that the repeal and replacement of Einstein's. Theory of Relativity will spring forth without warning.

Weigh these realities the next time you are becoming mesmerized by what appears to be a superior intellect, looking for a job after averaging 9 months on each of his or her last five positions.

There's a big difference between mensch and MENSA.  Just sayin' . . .



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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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