In 1905, a third-class patent clerk in Switzerland wrote four scientific papers in which he detailed a theory- a “special theory” involving space, time, and the relationship of one object to another.
The world paid little attention to the papers, or to the patent clerk.
His name was- Albert Einstein.
For ten more years, Einstein struggled with his concept. He couldn’t quite figure out how to deal with a force affecting essentially…everything.
While walking to work with a colleague one morning in 1915, talking as he often did about struggles with his gravitational calculations, Einstein’s co-worker posited, “Perhaps you’re asking the wrong question.”
His friend’s prompting switched-on a “light bulb” moment in Einstein’s brain.
With his new context, the ten-year struggle came to an end. The result? E=MC2, or what’s officially known as, “The General Theory of Relativity.”
Still looked upon as probably the most significant scientific discovery ever, Einstein’s theory continues to be proven accurate- relative to all “big” things- that is, things we can see and touch and feel.
In 1918, a German theoretical physicist named Max Planck won the Nobel Prize for detailing HIS discoveries regarding how things behave on a smaller scale- the atomic and sub-atomic levels.
Known as “quantum mechanics”, Planck (and certainly others since) have discovered that the smallest packets of energy follow a different set of rules.
Let me repeat that- the smallest packets of energy…the smallest elements…follow a different set of rules.
What the heck does this have to do with Performance Improvement?
For a moment, let’s say you and a physicist (someone who understand the science behind the “big things”) are standing atop a tall building, watching cars turn left and right at the intersection down below.
You ask the physicist, “Is this a random pattern?”
“Why, yes, of course,” he replies.
Interestingly, when you chart the car movements over time, it’s likely you’ll discover that it’s not random at all- just as many cars turn right as left. Further, no one can reliably predict the right or left turn of the next car coming to a corner- the odds are 50/50.
This is where the ‘general’ rules apply- after all, cars are ‘big’ things.
The same can be said for the Behaviors of your team members- the moment-by-moment actions and choices of any given individual at any point in time is essentially unpredictable.
The thing is- when you look ‘under the covers’, every person has a reason for each choice they make and each action they take. This is where you depart from the ‘big’ things such as systems, structures, human factors, and even observed behaviors, and get to the small elements- the underlying reasons WHY.
This is where the rules change.
Understanding this, and knowing HOW to take advantage of it, offers you a GRAND opportunity to be a CHAMPION- to make a fantastic difference in the performance of your organization.
Ultimately, the reasons these don’t work is because many are attempting to use these “big things”, which are bound to the “general” rules, to modify outcomes in an arena where the underlying “small” elements determine actions and choices.
Behaviors are great. We can observe them. However, when this is as far as we go, we are left to make assumptions in what appears to be a random world.
No wonder so many consider “human performance” to be so difficult and overwhelming!
We need to get to the underlying elements, such as an individual’s reasons WHY she made a given choice or took a certain action.
In future Episodes, I’m going to be diving DEEPLY into this. This is where incredible POWER lies for you as a LEADER and INFLUENCER.
In the meantime, I want to turn FOCUS to the concepts of Observation and Coaching.
This is timely, because so many (outside of nuclear power generation space) are just now turning their attention to the PERCEIVED benefits of initiating an “Observation & Coaching” Program.
If you are in the process of implementing (or are considering implementing or modifying) some type of Observation & Coaching Program, my first piece of advice to you is- STOP!
I can guarantee you this- you will be totally WASTING your time, energy, and resources (and likely really pissing off your team members) if you follow the path SO MANY have trod over the past 20+ years.
How can I say this with so much certainty?
The industry with the most experience in this arena is nuclear power generation in the United States.
I worked in that industry for 20 years.
Before I left to found the Practicing Perfection Institute, my last position in that industry was titled “Technical Support Manager”.
One of my department’s areas of responsibility was…the site Observation & Coaching Program and database.
From the inside out, as well as right to left, left to right, and upside down, I can tell you, as the “owner” and administrator of the program, it added ZERO value to the organization.
It was basically a “time suck” for the folks required to do 10 observations per month. Because of how the system was structured, as mandated by the regulator and industry oversight, AND because the folks doing the observations were not trained on how to properly proactively engage workers, in addition to adding no tangible calculable benefits to the organization, it tended to really aggravate workers, as well as damage relationships between leadership and the front line.
And now I see so many organizations looking at the so-called “successes” achieved by the nuclear industry, seeking to use them as a model.
Let me give you another piece of insight about the US nuclear industry before you head off in an attempt to model what they did in the past: Because of over-focus and over-commitment to non-value-add requirements (such as Observation & Coaching) the industry has become almost economically non-viable.
This is extremely unfortunate.
And don’t get me wrong, I am not “down” on nuclear power. I had a great 20 years in that industry. There are tremendous people working in the industry. Get rid of the unnecessary non-value-add burdens, and nuclear power generation provides a very safe, reliable, and potentially economical part our electrical generation mix!
Now…back to observing the behaviors of others…
I want to give you something you can put to immediate use.
Whether you are already doing observations or are thinking about implementing some type of formal process to do so…
Even if you’re not considering a formal process…
As a leader of any sort, you surely should be observing behaviors and actions as part of your job.
So here’s the question: What do you look for? Upon WHAT should you focus?
By the way, this is my favorite “F Word”- FOCUS.
Your ability to FOCUS is essential to your success.
And here’s a piece of TRUTH for you (write this down):
What you Focus upon expands.
Learn to FOCUS…upon whatever is going on at the moment…and you will exponentially multiply your capabilities- for solving problems, for accessing and capitalizing upon opportunities, AND…for influencing the Behaviors of others.
Now- as a busy committed individual, you surely want to use your time wisely.
With the accumulation of information available to us currently doubling every 12 months…with opportunities, challenges, distractions, and interruptions at every turn, it’s EASY to be mentally scattered and incessantly overwhelmed.
You can’t possibly focus upon everything.
So then, upon what SHOULD you focus when it comes to observing others with a desire to positively influence?
You should focus upon a handful of essential Behaviors known as Vital Behaviors.
What are these “Vital Behaviors”?
To answer that question, I want to divert for a moment to a very familiar area (at least in the United States)- weight loss.
The National Weight Control Registry has been conducting an ongoing study to identify common Behaviors of people who have successfully lost weight.
What’s considered “successful”?
The more than 10,000 members in the study have lost an average of 66 pounds, and kept the weight off for five-and-a-half years.
Substantial and sustainable weight loss.
If you’re one who has ever played the typical yo-yo up-and-down weight loss game, you understand the significance of this success.
The ongoing study has identified only four common predominate Behaviors contributing to the success of the participants
When it comes to weight loss, these are definitely Vital Behaviors.
What are they?
Here are the Vital Behaviors when it comes to sustainably losing substantial amounts of weight:
1. Eat breakfast every day
2. Weigh yourself at least once a week
3. Watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
4. Exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day
By the way, if you’re interested in looking more deeply into this study, I’ve provided the link for you in the Resources section on the webpage for this Episode.
How about that- you’re listening to REPSradio.com in your efforts to grab onto Next-Generation Performance Improvement, and you now know the ‘secrets’ to substantial and sustainable weight loss!
How’s that for a “little something extra”?!
Now, back to the performance of your team, department, facility, or enterprise…
If you are TRULY interested in taking performance to your Next Level, pay LOTS of attention.
There are only TWELVE Vital Behaviors needed to do so.
Combined, these twelve Behaviors, WILL transform your culture.
As an influencer, these are what you WANT to FOCUS upon.
What are they?
Rather than bore you with having to simply listen to a recitation of all twelve, it’ll serve you much better when you can SEE them.
So…we’ve put together an infographic depicting all twelve Vital Behaviors. This is available for your immediate download in full poster size, 11X17, or 8.5X11, using the link in the Resources section on the webpage for this Episode.
Remember- you want to be systematic in your Performance Improvement efforts. As we see it, there are four main factors to this approach. Each is represented by one of the four circles…or ‘elements’…in the diagram for the HU Factor®.
The four elements are:
1. Proactive Accountability®
There are three distinctly observable Behaviors for each of these four elements.
We therefore end up with a total of twelve.
I’m going to give you a taste of how this works by giving you one Vital Behavior for each of the four elements of the HU Factor®.
For Proactive Accountability®: Identify and remove landmines and roadblocks
For the Tools Element: Fully engage with task and procedure
Under Engagement we have… Support and encourage others
And finally for the Learning Element: Share lessons learned; look for mentoring opportunities
Do you see how each of these Behaviors is directly OBSERVABLE?
Do you understand HOW each goes a LONG way to generating Next-Level performance?
You know, I love the definition we use at PPI for Behavior Change:
What can I do TODAY that I can see working TODAY?
When you observe the right things, and properly engage, you generate immediate ongoing transformation!
When we conduct our Principle-Based Mentoring™ training, each of the twelve Vital Behaviors is dissected and discussed. Participants are then given a simple four-step recipe for precisely HOW to engage with the person (or persons) being observed- in a manner that builds relationships while aligning Behaviors with organizational Principles.
Again, for the rest of the Vital Behaviors, I highly encourage you to download the infographic, and then…FOCUS!
This Episode of REPSradio.com has been brought to you by the HU Academy, the Learning arm of PPI.
When it comes to Leadership, Reliability, Efficiency, Productivity, and Safety, the HU Academy offers fast, simple, and easy training and implementation solutions that enable you to rapidly and sustainably grow a culture of one team, one goal, one conversation.
So here’s your challenge for this Episode:
No matter where you are…BE THERE!
No matter what you’re doing, or who you’re interacting with- whether it’s a team member, your boss, or one of your kids at home- give the moment, the action, the choice, and any other person involved, your fully engaged attention.
Do this one thing- you will be AMAZED at how it will change your effectiveness, and ultimately- your entire life!
Thanks for being an AWESOME CHAMPION of Performance Improvement, and thanks for your FOCUS upon what’s truly important!