A Not-So-Super Experience

What was behind the seating snafu at the Super Bowl?

For millions of football fans watching around the world, the product on the field at Super Bowl XLV was a dream. For a few hundred gridiron enthusiasts who made the trip to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX, for the big game, it was anything but.

Because of safety issues with six sections of temporary seats at the $1.2 billion stadium, 1,250 fans who purchased tickets to the NFL championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers were relocated to other seats or to an area in the stadium where they could watch the contest on television.

The primary issue was the lack of hand railings in the sections, but other last-minute tasks remained incomplete, including a final tightening of the stairs and risers.1 With safety being a top priority, the NFL decided to block off the sections and try to find other accommodations for the ticket-holders.

"First, the system worked. I know it doesn’t look like it worked, but imagine if the area was occupied and there was a fatal accident," said Charles J. Kanapicki, chair-elect and newsletter editor for ASQ’s Design and Construction division. "Regardless, they had well over a month to prepare these seats—since they knew they were going to host the Super Bowl or at least since they sold the tickets.

"In other words, all the plans, approvals and materials could have been secured, with installation being the only thing needing to be done in the month before the game. So, maybe somebody dropped the ball or there were some behind-the-scenes complications that held up the work."

Early indications were that someone besides Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall did, indeed, drop the ball on Super Sunday. But identifying the guilty parties was a point of contention in the days following the game.

Eric Grubman, executive vice president of business ventures for the NFL, called it a "shared failure." Cowboys owner Jerry Jones pointed to "manpower and timing issues." And Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck placed the blame squarely on Seating Solutions, the contractor tasked with installing the seats. "They let the city down. They let all of us down."2

In fact, according to Grubman, Seating Solutions walked off the job and was replaced by Manhattan Constructions, which failed to finish the project.3

In the search for answers, Kanapicki used the facts that filtered out through news sources in the days following the game, as well as other public sources of information, and narrowed it down to management and environmental issues. He then constructed an analysis matrix to figure out where, exactly, things went awry (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

"My best guess at the root causes is there were some unforeseen conditions—that might have been discoverable—that led to scope changes after the project was awarded, resulting in contractual disputes and conflicts for work space."

Identifying the root cause of the seating snafu will be little solace to the fans who, after discovering their tickets were no good, were offered customer service as disorganized as the attempt to get their seats ready for the game.

Although the NFL knew of the potential seating issues in the middle of the week leading up to the Super Bowl,4 they didn’t alert any of the ticket-holders. One of the unlucky fans, Dan Powell, told CNBC the first time the spectators in the closed sections heard anything about the problems was from the ticket-takers at the entry gates.

After that, a series of run-ins with ushers, security personnel and NFL representatives ended with some fans being seated in the stadium’s upper reaches and others being guided to the North Field Club to watch the game on television.

"The NFL is making it out like we were treated like kings down there," Powell said. "The reality is we were herded down there with no answers, told to wait and then heard nothing for the entire game."5

The NFL has tried to make good by offering those affected by the closed section three times the $800 face value of the tickets (although some fans who bought the tickets on the secondary market paid as much as $8,8006) and one free ticket to next year’s Super Bowl, or tickets "to a future Super Bowl game of the fan’s choice, including next year’s if so desired, plus round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations provided by the NFL."7

Apparently, that wasn’t enough for fans who spent thousands of dollars on the tickets and travel expenses. Three days after the game, Michael Avenatti, a Los Angeles-based attorney, filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL that involves about 2,000 people and seeks $5 million in actual damages and unspecified punitive damages. "We think that this is a pretty straightforward matter," Avenatti said. "People did not obtain what they were told they were going to get."8

—Brett Krzykowski, assistant editor


  1. Tom Benning and Scott Farwell, "NFL Knew Last Week Super Bowl Seats Might be Unusable, But Who’s to Blame?" Dallas Morning News, Feb. 7, 2011.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Calvin Watkins, "Super Bowl Called ‘Total Disaster,’ http://sports.espn.go.com/dallas/nfl/news/story?id=6109257, Feb. 10, 2011.
  4. Tom Benning and Scott Farwell, "NFL Knew Last Week Super Bowl Seats Might be Unusable, But Who’s to Blame?" see reference 1.
  5. Darren Rovell, "Seatless Super Bowl Fan Questions League’s Commitment," www.cnbc.com/id/41476571, Feb. 8, 2011.
  6. Tom Benning and Scott Farwell, "NFL Knew Last Week Super Bowl Seats Might be Unusable, But Who’s to Blame?" see reference 1.
  7. National Football League, "NFL Statement on Options to be Offered to Fans Without Seats at Super Bowl XLV," www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d81e384d1/article/nfl-statement-on-options-to-be-offered-to-fans-without-seats-at-super-bowl-xlv, Feb. 8, 2011.
  8. ESPN, "Fans Sue Over Ticket Issues," http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2010/news/story?id=6104356, Feb. 10, 2011.


More CEOs Optimistic About Business Growth, Recovery

Nearly half of the recently surveyed CEOs from around the world said they were very confident they would see business growth during the next 12 months, a major shift from the 31% of CEOs who said the same thing last year.

According to an annual CEO survey from PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers), before the recession hit in 2008, 50% of CEOs shared that level of optimism, only two percentage points higher than this most recent survey. In total, 88% of the 1,201 CEOs surveyed last year said they have some level of confidence for prospects during the next 12 months; 94% said they were confident of growth three years from now.

China was considered the most important country for future growth, followed by the United States, Brazil and India.

"CEOs have emerged from the bunker mentality of surviving the recession," said Dennis M. Nally, chairman of PwC International. "They now see renewed opportunity for growth, even in the near term, and are determined to take advantage of better global economic conditions and increased customer demands."

For the full report, visit www.pwc.com/ceosurvey.


Midsize Firms Shift Focus to Customers, Innovation

To better compete in the changing global marketplace, more midsize companies are looking beyond just cutting costs. These firms are emphasizing growth, innovation and customer value, and thinking more about IT and smart systems, according to a recent IBM study.

In "Inside the Midmarket: A 2011 Perspective," 79% of business and IT decision makers at midsize companies said customers, innovation and growth were their main priorities. In the survey of 2,112 respondents, 21% said they were focused on reducing costs and increasing efficiencies, a marked drop from the 53% consumed by those goals two years ago.

Midsize firms are also investing more in IT. For instance, 75% said they have started or intend to implement IT infrastructure improvements this year. About 70% said they have started or intend to collaborate with partners to drive innovation, improve productivity and focus better on the customer.

To view the full report, visit www-304.ibm.com/businesscenter/cpe/download0/212133/Inside_the_Midmarket_Global_Report.pdf.

Who’s Who in Q

NAME: Francois Pageau.

RESIDENCE: Montreal.

EDUCATION: Master’s degree in mathematics from Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada.

INTRODUCTION TO QUALITY: Pageau took his first statistical quality control course while pursuing his undergraduate degree. The professor emphasized the rigorous probabilistic rationale behind all the methods he was teaching. Pageau’s interest in quality grew while designing statistical quality control methods for scientists in the medical field, one of his first assignments during his early years of consulting.

CURRENT JOB: Manager, statistical services and chief statistician, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems–Canada, which provides defense products and services to the military.

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: Pageau was a methodologist at Statistics Canada, Canada’s national statistical agency, and a professional statistical consultant at University Laval.

ASQ ACTIVITIES: Regularly participates in the Montreal Section’s events, including delivering presentations on various quality tools. Pageau has also participated in ASQ certification exam review workshops.

OTHER ACTIVITIES: Has served on various committees of the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC) and as president of SSC’s Business and Industrial Statistics Section. He is currently the chair of the SSC’s accreditation committee.

RECENT HONOR: Recognized as one of 11 ASQ members who hold 14 of 18 ASQ certifications.

FAVORITE WAYS TO RELAX: Martial arts, running and reading.

QUALITY QUOTE: Timing constraints might lead you to go with a good plan instead of your very best plan. Continuously honing your skills increases the chances your good plan will lead to better results than your competitor’s very best plan. Competition is the natural incentive to quality.


ASQ, Manpower Team Up on Social Responsibility Initiative

ASQ has partnered with the professional arm of Manpower Inc. to look for ways to advance social responsibility (SR) and involve business leaders and quality professionals.

ASQ and Manpower Professional, both with headquarters in Milwaukee, have co-authored "Social Responsibility and the Quality Professional," a white paper to help business leaders and quality professionals maximize the quality professionals’ roles in advancing SR and promote the benefits of implementing SR programs.

The paper also is meant to complement the recently published standard, ISO 26000:2010—Guidance on social responsibility, as well as educate organizations on SR and how it can make a difference.

"Organizations are held to ever-higher standards by all stakeholders, from consumers to employees, to clients and donors," said Melanie Holmes, a Manpower vice president. "Because SR now has a place as a key performance indicator, it is more important than ever to have organizations govern around objectives that support it, and quality professionals are an important part of this approach."

To access the 14-page white paper and to listen to a webinar recorded last month on SR and return on investment, visit ASQ’s Knowledge Center at http://asq.org/social_responsibility/index.html.


Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, visitors can take an informal survey, and we post the results.

Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:

"Which quality-influenced legislation passed in 2010 will have the greatest impact?"

  • Healthcare reform 62.8%
  • Financial reform 20%
  • Food safety improvements 17.1%

Visit www.qualityprogress.com for the most recent poll question:

"What role does social media play as you gather customer feedback?"

  • We don’t monitor it at all.
  • We monitor it but don’t collect data.
  • We think it’s crucial to our feedback process.

QP Classics

To help celebrate ASQ’s 65th anniversary, each month QP will spotlight classic content online. This month, eight columns written by Joseph M. Juran in 1973, when he was a contributing editor for QP, have been combined into one PDF file and can be found at www.qualityprogress.com.


ASQ Award Medalists Named

Manu K. Vora and Gregory H. Watson will be awarded ASQ’s Distinguished Service Medals at this year’s ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement, May 16-18, in Pittsburgh.

Twelve other quality thought leaders will be presented ASQ medals at the conference:

  • Crosby Medal: Steven J. Spear, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, Brookline, MA.
  • Deming Medal: Donald J. Wheeler, Statistical Process Controls Inc., Knoxville, TN.
  • Edwards Medal: Nabil Khalid Al-Dabal, Saudi Arabian Oil Co., Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
  • Feigenbaum Medal: Jamison V. Kovach, University of Houston.
  • Freund-Marquardt Medal: Yoshinori Iizuka, University of Tokyo.
  • Hutchens Medal: John Elkington Volans, London.
  • Juran Medal: Vincent F. Cotter Colonial School District, Plymouth Meeting, PA.
  • Lancaster Medal: Charles A. Aubrey II, Anderson Pharmaceutical Packaging, Rockford, IL.
  • Shainin Medal: Wayne B. Nelson, Wayne Nelson Statistical Consulting, Schenectady, NY.
  • Shewhart Medal: G. Geoffrey Vining, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.
  • Brumbaugh Award: George E.P. Box and Surendar Narasimhan, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


U.S. Education Gets Average Grades

Educators in the United States will face new challenges in providing quality education to all students while the country continues to recover from the recession, according to the 15th annual education report card recently released by Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center.

The report card, "Quality Counts 2011," covers the persistent concerns about the economic recovery and emerging opportunities for innovation as state and local officials attempt to move forward despite depleted budgets.

The report also reintroduces the center’s K-12 Achievement Index, evaluating the strength of a state’s performance against 18 individual indicators that capture:

  • Current achievement.
  • Improvements over time.
  • Poverty-based disparities or gaps.

When graded across the six policy and performance areas tracked by Quality Counts, the United States got a C average. For the third year in a row, Maryland was the top-ranked state, earning the nation’s highest overall grade, a B+. Close behind were Massachusetts and New York, which each received a B. The majority of states, however, received C+ grades or lower. Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., received Fs.

"If the turbulence and waves of hardship brought by the recession have taught us anything, it’s that America will sink or swim in a global economy based on its success educating all of its citizens, not just a privileged few, to high standards" said Christopher B. Swanson, vice president of EPE. "If we are going to continue advancing as a nation, then strong, sustained and equitable educational improvement must become the norm for students in every state rather than the exception that it is today."

Additionally, the report finds the nation has made little progress improving the opportunities for students to succeed throughout their lives. The nation received a C+ on the report’s annual Chance-for-Success Index, the same grade as last year.

To view the full report, visit www.edweek.org/media/ew/qc/2011/qualitycounts2011_pressrelease.pdf.


STEM Meeting Set for July

The ASQ Education Division is hosting a conference this summer that will cover science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives in schools, colleges, universities and the workplace.

The STEM Agenda Conference is open to teachers, education administrators, education and STEM faculty members, government officials and others to share their work, research and ideas. Attendees will be able to network and advance ideas in support of STEM initiatives. There are three conference tracks: K-12, higher education and workforce transition.

The event is set for July 19-20 at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. For more information, visit http://asq.org/conferences/stem-agenda/index.html.


THE JOB OF STATISTICIAN and several specialized engineering positions are among the 200 best jobs in the country, according to a national recruiting firm. CareerCast based its list on income, working environment, stress, physical demands and job outlook. Software engineer was ranked No. 1, statistician No. 4, aerospace engineer No. 19, petroleum engineer No. 24, civil engineer No. 33, industrial engineer No. 39 and nuclear engineer No. 49. The firm said data from the U.S. Labor Department and the U.S. Census, as well as its researchers’ own expertise, were used to compile the ratings. For the complete list, visit www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/2011-ranking-200-jobs-best-worst.

ASQ News

TWO NEW ENTERPRISE MEMBERS General Motors and Max India Ltd. have become ASQ’s latest enterprise members, joining 37 other organizations at this membership level. Visit www.asq.org/membership/organizations/enterprise.html for more information about enterprise membership.

SINGER TO SPEAK Don Singer, a member of ASQ’s Food, Drug and Cosmetics Division, is scheduled to be one of the keynote speakers at IBC’s 15th International Process and Product Validation Conference, March 14-15 in Bellevue, WA. Singer is a certified pharmaceutical good manufacturing practice professional and a former member of ASQ’s board of directors. For more information about the conference, visit www.ibclifesciences.com/process.


QP looks back on a person or event that made a difference in the history of quality.

March 31, 1948

Eliyahu M. Goldratt, an Israel-born physicist-turned-business-consultant, was born on this date.

Goldratt is known for developing the theory of constraints (TOC), a lean management philosophy that stresses removal of constraints to increase throughput while decreasing inventory and operating expenses. TOC also examines an entire system for continuous improvement.

He is also known as a prolific author. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, published in 1984, is widely used in college courses and the business world to teach operations management. The book illustrates the role bottlenecks, or constraints, play in a manufacturing process.



Juran Research Center Names Five Fellows

The Joseph M. Juran Research Center at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management has named five new Juran Fellows for 2010. They are

  • Jose A. Guajardo, operations and management science, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Borwornsom Leerapan, school of public health, University of Minnesota.
  • Tae-Youn Park, human resources and industrial relations, University of Minnesota.
  • Hung-Chung Su, operations and management science, University of Minnesota.
  • David Zepeda, operations and management science, University of Minnesota.

The center selects doctoral candidates whose research shows the most promise in the advancement and expansion of thinking and practices in the area of quality-related research. For more information about the fellows, visit the center’s website at www.csom.umn.edu/cms/page5309.aspx.


Honorary Members Form Impressive Lineup of Quality Thinkers

To help celebrate ASQ’s 65th anniversary this year, QP will look back each month on a piece of ASQ history. This month, we highlight ASQ’s honorary members, the highest grade of ASQ membership. Members of this elite club form a virtual "who’s who" in the history of quality.

To attain this status, an individual must be nominated by at least 10 regular members, and the award must be approved unanimously by the board of directors.

There have been 23 honorary members named since 1947:

  • George E.P. Box—educator and statistician.
  • Martin A. Brumbaugh—founding editor of Industrial Quality Control.
  • Simon Collier—past ASQ president.
  • Philip Crosby—consultant, author and zero defects promoter.
  • W. Edwards Deming—statistician, author, educator, consultant and quality expert.
  • Harold F. Dodge—architect of statistical quality control and sampling.
  • George D. Edwards—first ASQ president.
  • Armand V. Feigenbaum—developer of total quality control.
  • William A. Golomski—educator, industrial professional, consultant and manager.
  • Eugene L. Grant—quality control teacher.
  • Frank M. Gryna—industrial engineer, author and consultant.
  • John D. Hromi—practitioner, educator, and quality management and applied statistics principles consultant.
  • J. Stuart Hunter—statistician, educator, author and editor.
  • Kaoru Ishikawa—developer of the Japanese quality strategy.
  • Joseph M. Juran—author, consultant, teacher and thought leader.
  • Yoshio Kondo—thought leader in the fields of human motivation and total quality management.
  • Lloyd S. Nelson—statistics teacher, author and founding editor of the Journal of Quality Technology.
  • Ellis R. Ott—quality control educator.
  • Harry Romig—contributor to sampling and quality control.
  • Dorian Shainin—statistical engineering developer.
  • Walter A. Shewhart—father of statistical quality control.
  • Genichi Taguchi—developer of innovative methods and techniques.
  • Mason E. Wescott—mathematics and statistics educator.

Visit http://asq.org/about-asq/who-we-are/honorary-members.html for more information on the honorary members.

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