Posted by Sten Westgard, MS
The Sunday New York Times had an article we can't ignore: NFL Quality-Control Coaches Learn It All. This article combines Mike Holmgren, the Green Bay Packers, and what the NFL calls "quality control."
The idea of quality control coaches began when Mike Holmgren became the head coach for the Green Bay Packers in 1990. Among other things, he needed someone to make statistical break-downs and analyses of all their opposing teams. So he created the position of quality control coach and hired Jon Gruden. The trials and tribulations of the job sound all too familiar to those in the laboratory:
"These coaches received no recognition for long hours and little pay. But each understood the importance of the position. Because for all the pageantry and complexity of an NFL game, head coaches make decisions based on information provided by their quality-control coaches."
In the NFL, the grueling 18 hour days have begun to pay off for quality control coaches: Nine of them became head coaches of NFL teams in the last four years, including five this year. Evidently, teams are beginning to value those who have spent a lot of time gaining deep experience of play patterns.
It's just more evidence that the rest of the world is embracing statistical analysis - look at Moneyball, Freakonomics, and Supercrunchers. Sports and businesses are harvesting vast pools of data and turning them into actionable intelligence.
Meanwhile, in the dungeon of healthcare, the charge seems to be in the opposite direction. Instead of mining our statistical QC data for greater insights, we're arguing about ways to reduce our QC or stop doing any QC at all. And, unlike the NFL, it seems like an impossible dream for a laboratorian to rise to the top of the organization. The respect for data and intelligence just isn't there.
Quality Control: MVP in the NFL. But sacked for a loss in the laboratory.