September 2012


Sergio Garcia is one of the most talented players on the PGA tour.  He is probably best remembered for his amazing performance at the 1999 PGA Championship.

Unfortunately he now has a reputation for not capitalizing on his talent.  After coming so close to winning the PGA in 1999 it was expected that he would be winning majors and challenging Tiger Woods.  Instead he has struggled.  What is noteworthy is the way he has dealt with adversity.  In 2007, he spit in the cup after 3 putting.  In a sport that values etiquette this was a noteworthy act.  Later that year he lost the British Open by one stroke in a playoff.  In his assessment of his performance he implied that bad breaks cost him the championship rather than anything he did or the play of his competitors.

Success at golf is as much (or more) mental as it is physical.  The mental side of the game is even more critical at the professional level.  After so many struggles and setbacks Sergio Garcia is battling golf courses, a field of talented golfers, and himself.

With every perceived failure it becomes more and more difficult for him to achieve success.  Golf is hard and full of the unexpected.  You just have to accept it.  That’s what makes golf enjoyable and frustrating.  Maintaining a healthy perspective is critical to maintaining a competitive edge.

Scott Gerber provides 3 tips for bloggers.

  1. Write with the headline in mind
  2. Fit your goals to your placement (audience)
  3. Lead generation and/or monetization

Click here to hear Scott explain each and get practical information from a guest.  If you don’t like it you only lost 3 minutes.

Warning: This post does not have anything to do with performance improvement…or does it?

Meet David Rees, artisanal pencil sharpener.

According to his website, “craftsman David Rees still practices the age-old art of manual pencil sharpening. His artisanal service is perfect for artists, writers, and standardized test takers. Shipped with their shavings and a “certificate of sharpening,” these extra-sharp pencils make wonderful gifts.

In 2010 he charged $15 to sharpen your pencil.  Now he charges $20.  Pretty good work if you can get it.

If you don’t have $20 set aside for this you can buy his book for $13.57 on Amazon and learn to do it yourself.

The man at work.

 

If that isn’t enough, click here to see him interviewed as part of his book tour.

I found some good reminders about performance improvement in an article on international development.  Apparently the focus of international development these days is capacity building.  This is not a term I use every day so I looked it up (naturally Wikipedia had my answer).

Capacity building is a conceptual approach to development that focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations from realizing their developmental goals while enhancing the abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results.”

That sounds like what I do every day in a different context.  I can only imagine what obstacles he experiences in developing countries.  He makes an interesting point in his post (emphasis mine).

There is considerably more depth to the ideas than capacity-building-is-more-than-training. There are lots of boxes and arrows that tell you what to do to who, when, how, and how often. In summary, these boxes say “figure out what they want to do; figure out why they can’t do it now; fix that.” And above all – don’t assume the solution is training.

This is a point I make repeatedly and I don’t think it can be made frequently enough.  In fact I have two messages posted on the wall of my office to make sure people don’t forget (including me).

Training

does not always lead to

Learning

and

Learning

does not always lead to

Performance

The goal of every organization should be to achieve measurable and sustainable results, however that is defined for them.  Often this approach requires a shift in thinking.  The first is the attitude toward learning.  We all get busy and our to-do list grows daily.  Every once in a while its good to return to the basics.

Google recently announced that it is “launching an initial set of Google+ features designed specifically for businesses.”  If you don’t know, Google+ is a social networking platform similar to Facebook.  The plan is to make Google+ available to companies that are already using Google Apps.  This move has great implications from a performance improvement perspective.  Let me tell you why.

Informal learning has been a hot topic in learning circles for several years.  The struggle has always been to capture the dynamic of the water cooler without losing its value.  By adding social networking features to Google Apps an organization can bring the water cooler to everyone’s work space.  I will attempt to provide some examples of how this can work.

An analyst becomes aware of a shipping problem at the warehouse.  He contacts the supervisor to get a status report on the problem.  Using the Hangouts On Air feature, the two discuss the problem and work out a resolution via video chat.

The entire process can take minutes to complete.  The analyst and warehouse supervisor do not need schedule a meeting or even be in the same location.  The conversation can be recorded and shared for everyone in the organization to access or it can be shared with specific groups (called Circles in Google+).   When the video is posted viewers can comment and ask questions just like they comment on a post in Facebook.

The Circles feature is another great way to encourage and facilitate collaboration.

A circle enables you to decide who has access to information.  If a work group is created to develop a new sales strategy they can collaborate in a circle.  Throughout the process they can share selected information with other circles to solicit feedback or provide updates.  They can add members as the needs of the project dictate.  When the project is complete they can share their final report with other circles.

These are just two examples of how Google+ can improve an organization’s performance.  The company I work for uses Google Apps.  We have stretched the docs and sites features to improve collaboration within the corporate office and with our remote locations.  I think the social aspect of Google+ would take the work we have done already to an entirely new level.

Closing the top skill and competency gaps that exist today relies on providing learning within the context of employees’ daily work. To close these kinds of gaps, tacit knowledge, craft know-how and relational strategies have to increase dramatically.

The quote above comes from a mentoring article in Chief Learning Officer magazine.  The author cites a variety of sources that to point out that employees lack the skills and experience to build sustainable team performance.  He goes on to point out that traditional and e-learning are not as effective as mentoring.  One of his sources says their mentoring program emphasizes “how leaders can have the most business impact and personal satisfaction by making explicit connections between their talents, values and motivations and the kind of work they do.”

The author provides five types of mentoring that can be used alternately to improve performance, topical, situational, peer, reverse, and open.  The article provides explanations of each.  It is likely that a blend of these types will be required to create the best experience and improve the outcomes.

As with any learning endeavor it is best to work with a learning professional to document clear goals and specific outcomes.  This will help to identify the right mentor(s) and mentoring strategy.

Steve Young has resumed his weekly discussions about the NFL, quarterbacks, and whatever else comes up in the course of the conversation.  He’s always interesting and has a unique perspective on the NFL.  When I started posting on this last year, I explained that I believe there are lessons that can be applied in any setting.  Steve Young talks about player development, strategy, communication, attitude and many other factors that determine success in the NFL or anywhere you find yourself.

This week he gives his thoughts on Randy Moss and talks about what it takes to be a successful quarterback.  What I find particularly interesting are the different paths to success in the NFL.  Conventional wisdom suggests that you need a player like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees who can spread the ball around and utilize his formidable weapons to take advantage of a defense’s weaknesses.  Steve Young takes a more nuanced view.  I included some excerpts below but I encourage you to listen to the whole thing.

Interviewer2:  Do you see Andrew Luck as the last of the classically-trained pocket quarterbacks?
Steve Young: I think it will be a mix.  You’ll see guys like RG III (Robert Griffin III) press the edges.  You’ll see Michael Vick do it less and less as he matures.  Hopefully you’ll see more guys with legs that can stand the test of what it takes to be an NFL quarterback, to deliver it from the pocket.  If you’re one of these efficiency-championship quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Peyton Manning) you’re going to do really well.  If you can do the job and have the legs you get capitulation from defenses.

Interviewer1: I took the playoff teams from last year and tried to figure out what the common denominators were and the 3 most prominent stats were turnover differential, quarterback rating, and quarterback efficiency (TD/Int ratio).  It wasn’t necessarily that you had to be Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady and throw for 300 yds/game but when you threw the ball you better be efficient.  You wouldn’t consider Alex Smith to be in the same class with those other guys but his rating was very good and his efficiency was very very good last year and that was one of the reasons the 49ers were in the NFC Championship game.
Steve Young: No question.  That’s why there are 5 new starting quarterbacks in the league this year.  Teams know if we can get a guy and develop him we have a chance to be there.  You don’t get there unless you have a guy that can dictate to defenses, be efficient, put the ball in the end zone instead of kicking field goals, and generally dominate from the spot the league has put you in a place to do it.

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