2013  November 22

Fors and Againsts

At the recent WEF summit in Abu Dhabi and on the New Models of Leadership Council on which I serve, my favorite sports coach, Ralph Krueger, shared a thought that has bugged me ever since Malcolm Gladwell published that piece on the 10,000-Hour Rule. The notion of "practice makes perfect" is a good one because it reinforces another phrase I like which is "good luck is hard work." But while the *why* of practice makes good sense, I’ve wondered about the *what* to practice that isn’t often easy to choose. Because there’s a lot of *what*s out there ...

Coach Ralph shed light on the answer to this question I’ve had when he described how after a game is played, Ralph will review two types of moments during the game: Fors and Againsts. And he will set up practices to drill into the player the best response to those two types of moment so that he can embody in his players the actions to take so as to harden into ... intuition: repeatable and unconscious embodied knowledge that can kick into act without thought at the decision points that matter most during a game.

Fors are opportunities the player has created for his team to score a goal. Againsts are opportunities the player has created for the OTHER team to score a goal. The beauty of Ralph’s approach is that he doesn’t care about the number of goals scored or goals lost. Ralph only cares if his players are constantly nudging opportunities in the direction of winning while nudging opportunities away from the direction of losing.

Ralph’s elegant design of team performance enhancement made me wonder if the performance evaluation process in work environments misses the point around metrics of success and failure that focus on the outcome versus the process. Better processes can more reliably deliver better results -- the goal isn’t the result, but rather the quality of the skills that deliver the results. This approach of course doesn’t say that we need to ignore results; it speaks to where we want to place our emphasis when coaching the teams that we lead.

Okay, my blogging break time is up. Now back to the hockey rink for me. -JM

Knowing how you win versus how you lose determines the game.

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