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Implementing COVID preparation into your outage planning. Alabama’s Coach Saban might have it right.

In a recent article on, The University of Alabama’s head football coach, Nick Saban, was interviewed talking about bowl preparation leading up to his team’s Cotton Bowl game against The University of Cincinnati. When questioned about his strategies going into the game, he made a relevant connection to ensuring he is putting his players in the right position to succeed in a world of COVID by doing something he and his staff implemented in 2020 leading up to their eighteenth national championship.

"Saban said they allowed players to go home for Christmas break last year and gave them a “care package” that helped explain what they need to do to stay safe."

Within all organizations that have outage planning strategies, I would imagine that there are very few, if any, that have outage preparation strategies that Coach Saban would say are proactive to manage the implications that COVID can have on an outage.

Within manufacturing, all organizations are facing delays or disruptions because of COVID. Organizations are witnessing key employees, internal and external to the organization, getting ill going into the outage, disrupting their ability to contribute their individual tasks, or removing their leadership presence. Then, when conducting the post-outage review, these organizations note these COVID disruptions, most likely accepting them as “expected delays” due to the world we live in now. As manufacturing leaders, we are failing to stop and challenge the scenarios by asking, is there anything we could do next time to reduce the probability that COVID will impact the success of our outage?

Coach Saban has a good idea that manufacturing organizations might have not considered before. It’s a strategic proposition focused on the end goal of having an effective outage, that we challenge our organizations to manage their preparations leading up to outage day. Should we challenge our teams to ensure they are focused on the prep work for them to be a key contributor during the outage?

I would have to imagine that in Coach Saban’s “care package” visual reminders showing what happens when their team succeeds, using images of previous championships as a motivational tool. I would have to imagine there are packets of vitamin C and zinc, and brand new and flashy facemasks. I would have to imagine that there are a few cards with quotes from alumni indicating that recognition achieved from success outweighs the value of momentary highs. Whereas it is intended to motivate players to think not think selfishly when they are at home during the holiday break, and instead direct their focus on their contributions to the team’s goal of getting to the national championship game.

In manufacturing should we consider similar tactics? Should we challenge our team’s differently in outage planning to build out outage Gantt charts with virtual collaboration versus brick-and-mortar? Should we as leaders mail “care packages'' to the houses of critical team members and leaders to ensure they are reminded of their role to play in next week’s outage? There are a variety of opportunities here to combat COVID more proactively, primarily leading up to major outages. What would you put in these care packages and how would you articulate your message?


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