1. BPIR Best Practice Newsletter – February 2014

    January 31, 2014 by ahmed
    BPIR Best Practice Newsletter
    February – 2014
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    Hi,A Happy and successful new year in 2014 from the BPIR team!  Welcome to February’s edition of the BPIR Newsletter. sharing with you best practices, improvement tools, and events.

    Read our Latest Best Practice Report:
    Collaborative Tools and Methodologies

    Collaboration forms a significant part of our daily lives; it is also an indispensable component for organisations in the complex, rapidly changing world of business operations. Collaborative tools have become widely available on the Internet; these tools can be particularly powerful when used to develop and harness business relationships on a global level. read more.(Non-members of the BPIR can read the newsletter but will be unable to access some of the links).

    Upcoming Events
    Ottawa Public Sector Quality Fair, Ottawa 4 Feb.  Organiser: Excellence Canada.Business Excellence Briefings, Singapore 17 Feb. Organiser: SPRING Singapore.Internal Auditing Adelaide, 24 – 25 Feb.Organiser: Australian Organisation for Quality (South Australia).

    Certificate in Business Excellence, Wellington 11 Mar. Organiser: New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation

    Benchmarking for Excellence
    Singapore 13 – 14 Mar., Subang – Malaysia 15 -16 Apr.

    ** See BPIR Events Calendar for more

    BPIR News
    • Developing Effective Communication Skills – Tips to become a better communicator.  ….read more
    • How much effort do you put into your work? – Above-average people will actually display above-average effort in almost all of their behaviours and interactions with you – they don’t turn effort on and off.  ….read more
    • Lessons in quality and innovation – Excerpt from a mentor chat with Suresh Lulla about his views on quality and innovation.  ….read more
    • Rudolf the “Read-Knows” Changer – Once upon a time there was a City employee named Karen Rudolf. ….read more
    • Free ebook: How Leaders Solve Problems – ebook that brings to you some fascinating fables of vision, change, innovation and problem solving by leaders. ….read more
    • Lean six-sigma brings dramatic improvements to crime lab – How Munroe County Crime Laboratory improved their performance by 30%. ….read more

    Spotlight on Events
    Business Excellence Awards Winners Sharing, 27 March 2014,
    Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, Singapore
    Hear from Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Company Pte Ltd, Qian Hu Corporation, Biosensors Interventional Technologies Pte Ltd and other Business Excellence Award winners about their success stories in the Business Excellence Awards Winners Sharing on 27 March 2014.These organisations share the common attributes of being people and customer centric, with a leadership that invests in innovation and capabilities for future growth. These attributes have enabled the organisations to benefit from productivity improvements, greater staff and customer engagement and superior results for their organisations.

    Click here for the programme and to register.

    Benchmarking for Excellence Workshop, 13/14 March 2014, Singapore
    Is your organization applying best practices? Since 2007, when TRADE Best Practice Benchmarking was selected by the Civil Service College as the preferred benchmarking methodology, 100’s of Singapore organizations’ have applied TRADE to improve performance in areas such as productivity, employee morale, customer satisfaction and cycle time.   The workshop will be led by TRADE founder, Dr Robin Mann. Click here for information on this workshop and others planned in Malaysia, UAE, and New Zealand.  

    Spotlight on Self-Assessment

    Have you used any of our self-assessment tools lately? We have over 70 to assess all aspects of your organisation from how your organisation develops its strategy to how it serves its customers. Here are three typical examples:


    • Project Management – This checklist helps to assess how the rigor or an organisation’s approach to Project Management..read more
    • Is your Organisation in an Innovation Rut? This self-assessment tool is a brief test that helps you measure the current state of innovation at your organization. By completing it, you will be able to find out whether your organization is in an “innovation rut”. ….read more
    • Supply Chain Management – This self-assessment tool will help you to assess your current stage of Supply Chain Management (SCM) maturity and plan how to move to higher levels of maturity. .read more

    Featured Publications
    Did you know BPIR provides full access to over 790 excellent business publications providing, in total, over 1,000,000 articles and reports? Here are a few of the titles from the “Engineering” category (one of 23 categories):
    – Engineer
    – Industrial Engineer
    – Petroleum Economist
    – UMTRI Research Review
    – Manufacturing Engineering
    – Engineering Management Journal

    Best Practice Case Studies

    Read one of our best practice case studies:

    Collaboration software helps protect knowledge
    Knowledge is perhaps one of the most important assets that an organization possesses. Rather than attempting to capture and collate all of the information held by an organisation, collaboration tools have been developed that enable personnel to both interact with one another and to locate specific knowledge of interest. The Shaw Group needed to protect the knowledge held by its engineers and therefore turned to a proprietary web-based tool which provided access to more than 21,000 reference works that engineers could use to search for relevant data. The engineers were also able to use the system for sharing information locally and to collaborate with employees working in different geographic regions. The system ensured that everyone had access to the same information, and it enabled users to create their own personal knowledge management systems which could be saved for future reference both by themselves and by their colleagues…..…. read more

    Lean Six Sigma aims at zero errors
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CMC) aimed at zero errors for its Lean Six Sigma projects even when considered not theoretically possible. They likened their “zero errors” philosophy to designing a jet aircraft where anything less was is not acceptable. The following outline CMS’s successes:
    1.) Hand Washing compliance rates rose from 66 percent to 95 percent in 18 months and currently remained steady at 98 percent.
    2.) Surgical Site Infection rates fell from 15.5 to less than 5 per 100 procedures.
    3.) Readmissions – 30-day all-cause readmission rates among heart failure patients was reduced by more than 50 percent within eight months.
    4.) Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP) rates fell over a 10 month period to five incidences out of 9,580 ventilator days – zero VAP cases occurred anywhere at CMS for six of those 10 months. This rate was more than 70 percent below the average for similar hospitals in the National Healthcare Safety Network….
    …. read mor

    Remember to 

    Regularly check out the bpir.com for benchmarks, best practices and business excellence. We know you will find valuable knowledge and we always welcome your feedback, so if you have time, please email any comments about our services to feedback@bpir.com.If you are currently not a member of the BPIR, or wish to upgrade your membership then please review our membership offerings at JOIN NOW. you won’t be disappointed.

    Neil Crawford——————
    General Manager
    BPIR.com Ltd
    Business Performance Improvement Resource (BPIR)
    Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER)

    “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back” – Chinese Proverb

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    © 2014 BPIR.com Limited.

  2. Correlation between results & measures

    January 26, 2014 by ahmed

    “Some people achieve the top of the ladder and only then realize it was standing against the wrong wall”, Stephen Covey

    Measuring performance is an important part of an effective management. It can be best understood through considering the definitions of the words ‘performance’ and ‘measurement’ according to the Baldrige Criteria:

    • Performance refers to output results and their outcomes obtained from processes, products, and services that permit evaluation and comparison relative to goals, standards, past results, and other organisations. Performance can be expressed in non-financial and financial terms.
    • Measurement refers to numerical information that quantifies input, output, and performance dimensions of processes, products, services, and the overall organisation (outcomes). Performance measures might be simple (derived from one measurement) or composite.

    The challenge for organisations today is how to match and align performance measures with business strategy, structures and corporate culture, the type and number of measures to use, the balance between the merits and costs of introducing these measures, and how to deploy the measures so that the results are used and acted upon.

    Do you need to overhaul your organisations’ performance measure? Then BPIR is the right place to do that, join BPIR today and get access to more than 1000 examples of performance measures.

    Below an article from BPIR’s partner New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation (NZBEF) about the importance of aligned results and measures written by Shara Curlett.

    In this article we will explain the importance of the correlation between results and measures, relevant to any organisation going through the strategic planning process.

    What Separates the Winners from the Rest?

    The Awards programmes in New Zealand are an indication of those organisations that are striving to be the best. To be the best, they need to demonstrate this in what can be considered a very brief snapshot, attempting to encompass everything the organisation does.

    During the Awards evaluation process, the evaluator/s will often look to the results section as a clear indicator of performance. If an organisation is performing well, it means that more often than not, they are doing the right things to get there.

    However – the trained evaluators cannot be easily fooled! Results can be skewed, and meaningless to the organisation’s strategic objectives. An organisation can only demonstrate improvement based on what they are measuring, and if those measures are meaningless or irrelevant to the organisation’s primary vision and key objectives, then this represents a gap in the organisation’s alignment. They simply “paint the right picture” to the untrained eye.

    Therefore, the most common section of an award application that separates the winners from other candidates are those organisations that can demonstrate a clear correlation between their business objectives, their measures and their results.

    Alignment is a strong component of an organisation’s success. It indicates how well the organisation has consistency among plans, actions, analysis and results that support organisational goals. Results can be portrayed in any way an organisation chooses, however we only need to look at the number of research studies that present positive results which are based on limited data, thus proving that results do not always necessarily reflect success (or even accuracy).

    How does an organisation find out if its measures are aligned with its results?

    We need to go back to basics.

    At the crux of any organisation is its strategic plan. Depending on the company / organisation – this could be a one-pager written on a napkin or a 20-page official document. Regardless – your strategic plan should have a clear vision. i.e. “Why are you in business? What is your ultimate goal?”

    This vision is what drives your organisation, and you achieve this through your key strategic objectives. The general rule of thumb is 4 – 8 objectives. Studies suggest that any more than this and an organisation tends not to achieve any objectives due to lack of focus / overwhelm.

    The objectives should follow a formula such as the traditional SMART objectives model:

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Realistic
    • Time-bound

    Depending on your organisation, these objectives may be all you need, or you may drill down further, defining specific measures under each objective, by department or otherwise.

    The Importance of Meaningful Measures

    It is by these measures (i.e. those that support the strategic objectives and / or the strategic objectives themselves) that your organisation defines its success or otherwise. Therefore when setting these measures, an organisation should be able to demonstrate the following:

    1. They are applicable and meaningful to the organisation. Can you trace a path back up to the vision?
    2. They are a true measure of success / improvement. A measure that is static does not necessarily reflect progress in the organisation – therefore if we go back to #1 – is it relevant?
    3. They are benchmarked. Who else is doing what you do? What other organisations can you benchmark against?
    4. They are against targets relevant to the organisation. Alongside a benchmark, what is your goal? Some benchmarks are good to aspire to, however do not always reflect a target – e.g. the benchmark could be lower than your organisation’s standards, or alternatively you could be a start-up with Year 1 and 2 targets that are much lower than the industry benchmark.

    What are Results Really About?

    Results are all about transparency.

    Results will show clearly whether or not an organisation is on the right track. If the results are not positive, then they may indicate clear opportunities for improvement, keeping in mind that some of these opportunities may actually be out of an organisation’s control.
    Results should clearly show:

    • A trend, or the beginnings of a trend. You only achieve a trend by measuring data over time. This takes dedication and continual measurement of the same data. Therefore if an organisation is continually changing its objectives and measures, it will be difficult to gauge any type of improvement over time.
    • Results against benchmarking data and targets. However this is presented, i.e. graphs, charts, or tables, the results only have meaning if they have context. This context is provided by the benchmarking data from the industry and/or other similar organisations, alongside targets.
    • Comments on significant impacts. As mentioned, some results can be out of an organisation’s control, therefore it is important to note how and why the organisation was impacted.

    Why is Alignment Important?

    One important reason for aligning a company / organisation’s measures with its results is for team buy-in. The workforce want to know that what they do has meaning, that they are doing well, and that they are recognised for their efforts.

    If the results that reflect their performance are linked back to the vision and mission, this can have a significant impact on their morale and motivation – provided the vision inspires them.

  3. Learning from Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew

    January 23, 2014 by nick.halley


    By Professor Calestous Juma

    When history is said to repeat itself, it is never for good reasons. George Bernard Shaw captured this when he said: “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience

    The question of whether nations can learn from history nag policymakers around the world. Part of the problem is that history is handed down through a variety of interpretations that do not reflect reality. But contemporary history, if genuine presented, can offer policy makers with lessons they can learn from.

    This is the central message in the book, Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World, by Graham Allison and Robert Blackwill, with Ali Wyne. This is a contemporary account of Lee Kuan Yew’s thinking as told through a series of interviews.

    His central message is that history can repeat itself in a positive way if the world community pays attention to contemporary lessons. When Lee Kuan Yew took over as Prime Minister in 1959, Singapore’s annual per capital income was $400 and is now estimated at about $60,000.

    Singapore’s lessons for other developing countries have yet to be fully appreciated. This is partly because much of the discussion has tended to focus on rhetorical arguments about relationships between governance and economic growth.

    In fact, governance distinguished Singapore from its neighbors. As Lee Kuan Yew says: “They are not clean systems; we run clean systems. Their rule of law is wonky; we stick to it. We become reliable and credible to investors.”

    His key message on the driving force behind Singapore’s success is simple: “The quality of a nation’s manpower resources is the single most important factor determining national competitiveness. It is the people’s innovativeness, entrepreneurship, team work, and their work ethic that gives them that sharp keen edge in competitiveness.”

    He emphasizes the importance of knowledge in economic transformation but also rejects the classical separation between scholarship and entrepreneurship. “Those with good minds to be scholars should also be inventors, innovators, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs; they must bring new products and services to the market to enrich the lives of people everywhere.”

    This lesson from the evolution of Singapore’s educational system poses great challenges for most developing countries. They run outmoded educational systems that do not reflect the entrepreneurial demands of modern times.

    How to reform educational systems to keep pace with contemporary challenges is one the most important leadership lessons that developing countries can learn from Singapore. In stating that “demography, not democracy, will be the most critical factor for security in the 21st century,” Lee Kuan Yew emphasizes his belief in the supremacy of the quality of human capital.

    He connects this to three attributes that he considers vital for global competitiveness: entrepreneurship (seeking out opportunities and taking calculated risks); innovation (creating new products and processes that add value); and management (opening new markets and distribution channels).

    Probably the most enduring theme in Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership style and conviction is the role of learning. His vision of workers of the future reflects greater autonomy “to manage their own control systems, supervise themselves, and take upon themselves the responsibility to upgrade. They must be disciplined enough to think on their own and to seek to excel without someone breathing down their neck.”

    This lesson might appear to run counter to popular perceptions about Lee Kuan Yew’s own leadership style. But he expects the same kind of “creativity of the leadership, its willingness to learn from experience elsewhere, to implement good ideas quickly and decisively through an efficient public service.”

    In addition, he argues for a leadership style that can “convince the majority of people that tough reforms are worth taking, that decide a country’s development and progress.”

    One of the critical areas that require tough decisions include large infrastructure investments that lay the foundations for economic growth. Singapore built “world-class infrastructure…good communications by air, by sea, by cable, by satellite, and now over the Internet.”  But such long-term investments demand not only having long-term economic vision, but consistence and predictability in the rule of law.

    Lee Kuan Yew remains optimistic about the economic future of developing countries: “There is no reason why third world leaders cannot succeed…if they can maintain social order, educate their people, maintain peace with their neighbors, and gain the confidence of investors by upholding the rule of law.”

    To achieve success, these leaders must have Lee Kuan Yew’s determination, consistency, and persistence. They must set out to do something concrete and cannot just focus on the trappings of statesmanship. His advice is simple: “Anyone who thinks he is a statesman needs to see a psychiatrist.”

    For developing countries, history can repeat itself, but not necessarily in the caustically pessimistic way that Karl Marx describes when he said it repeats itself “first as tragedy, second as farce.” Lee Kuan Yew presents a more optimistic outlook. His insights are an important source of inspiration for present and future leaders.

  4. Developing effective communication skills

    January 19, 2014 by ahmed


    Effective communication skills are one of the most important skills for success in many aspects of life. Employees need strong communication skills to better understand situations and to resolve issues and build an efficient workplace.

    Effective communication is not limited to the workplace; it can improve relationships at home, work, and social life.

    It takes time and effort to develop good communication skills, one of the good ideas to improve communication skills is to learn from good communicators.

    Below is an article from Shane Snow presenting some tips to become a better communicator.

    Shane Snow, Chief Creative Officer of Contently

    I’ve recently been doing a bit of research on space exploration. The hunt has inevitably led me to stories about SpaceX founder (and billionaire genius) Elon Musk, a man whose mission to colonize Mars has led to the development of self-landing rockets, among other innovations over the last few years.

    In the course of geeking out about such rocketry, I stumbled across two Musk interviews that inadvertently illustrate one of the biggest conversational mistakes — and missed opportunities — I see people make every day. Coincidentally, they’re both by men named Rose: Kevin Rose, founder of Digg and partner at Google Ventures, and Charlie Rose, the veteran PBS/CBS interview host. Each had the chance to interview one of today’s most fascinating innovators, but one of them succeeded in a slightly more enlightening (and less awkward) interview.

    The difference was in the questions they asked, and specifically how they asked them. See if you can spot what’s going on:

    Kevin: What led you into entrepreneurship? Was it something that you always knew that you wanted to be, an entrepreneur on your own? Or did you stumble into it?

    Charlie: What are you doing in terms of planetary exploration?

    Kevin: Where do you come up with your best ideas? Are you on vacation, or do you wake up in the middle of the night and draw things down?

    Charlie: How did you go about the design?

    Kevin: When did you decide to get into computers and technology? Did you start coding? Or was it a lot of…?

    Charlie: What do you think?

    Can you guess which interview went better?

    You can see the interviews for yourself here and here if you’re interested (this snippet about global warming here is fantastic). But you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that Charlie Rose’s interview was more interesting, and came across as significantly more professional. The man is great at asking questions and getting out of the way; he uses short, open-ended questions when he wants elaboration, and short, yes-or-no questions when he wants to be pointed.

    Kevin Rose, on the other hand, ends every question in the interview with a series of possible answers. Instead of performing an interview, he administers a multiple-choice exam. In the process, he not only uses time that his interview subject could spend talking, but also misses out on serendipitous conversational outcomes. With the multiple-choice question format, you simply water the conversation down.

    We all do this. “What are you doing for the holidays? Are you staying in town, or are you going somewhere, or do you have to work?…”

    This usually occurs because people have a hard time ending sentences. We are uncomfortable with terseness. So we ramble until we trail off, or until the other person jumps in. Instead of, What do you think?, we say, Do you think x, y, z, q, r or…

    Once you start paying attention to this it will drive you nuts. We don’t tend to notice the multiple-choice problem in ourselves until we’re in a situation like a sit-down interview, recorded for all the Internet to see, when suddenly the repeat effect of the struggle-to-suggest-options-because-I-don’t-know-how-to-stop becomes really… well, irritating!

    (Of course, the Musk interviews are a good example but not a fair comparison. Charlie’s been at this for decades. Kevin is a very smart guy, and his Foundation series is quite good. The interviewee lineup is spectacular – albeit male-heavy – and he unearths some pretty interesting backstories. His Q&A skill will increase as with all interviewers, and he’s going to discover in the course of interviewing people what great interrogators know: the interviewee will always suggest more interesting answers than you can.)

    As a journalist-turned-entrepreneur, I’ve written a few times about the skills that businesspeople can pick up from reporters. The art of asking great questions is one of the most frequently useful. (I elaborate on my rules for better Q&A, whether in a formal interview or a simple conversation, in an old Fast Company post here.)

    The #1 tip for asking better questions? Cut them off at the question mark.

    Those better, terser questions will make you a better conversationalist, a more effective information-gatherer. A more efficient speaker. And, perhaps paradoxically, a more pleasant communicator.

    It takes will power to be concise. But effective questions will double your conversational effectiveness, and just might make you a little more interesting yourself.

    So… what do you think?

  5. How much effort do you put into your work?

    January 15, 2014 by ahmed

    “Above-average people will actually display above-average effort in almost all of their behaviours and interactions with you – they don’t turn effort on and off”, CAES

    Employee performance and motivation has always been a real problem for managers and business owners. Unmotivated employees are likely to spend the minimum effort to do the job and produce low quality work. On the other hand, motivated employees tend to be creative and productive and go the “extra mile” which distinguish their work from others.

    While there are many studies and resources about motivating employees, it is important for managers and business owners to pay extra attention to hire “above-average” employees.

    The below blog post on minimal effort and 20/80 rule is by Jim Gilchrist from CAES.

    Jim Gilchrist B.E.S.

    Minimal effort will get you minimal results. Everything of real value will come through your effort.

    I recently began some career development work with a new client, a 15 year business owner who asked for my help in transitioning into a new role. At one point, when we were discussing performance motivation, I asked “what irritates you most about employees”? Without blinking an eye she responded …” minimal effort. It drives me crazy when people don’t see the substantial results that could be achieved if they simply did a little more than the minimum”.

    This resonated with me. I immediately made a connection between my client’s view of minimal effort and my continual application of the “20/80 rule”. Long a supporter of 20/80 thinking, I sincerely believe that 20% of people, at all organizational levels, do 80% of the work. And the 20% are above average performers because they exert above average effort, rather than just doing the minimum in order to “get by”.

    The difference in performance can often depend on a person’s response to fear. While most people are disabled by fear, hence their reluctance to change, take chances and innovate, top performers are typically motivated by fear. Even though they project high self-confidence, the above-average 20% are actually most motivated away from failure. They do establish goals to accomplish, but it is their fear of failure that really drives them forward, creates their desire to put in any required extra effort, and provides the support necessary for them to persistently sustain their above-average effort over time. Since persistence is the cornerstone to success achievement, those people who are persistent in applying extra effort will often leave the “minimalists” far behind.

    I often mention the Dunning – Kruger Effect (David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell), which suggests that some people suffer from “illusionary performance superiority” causing them to mistakenly assess their own performance as being above average. We all have seen examples of this. People who are good at one thing often believe that they are good at many things, even though they are not as competent as they would like to think. By overestimating their skill levels, the incompetent are unaware of the extent of their incompetence. Supported by their fearless self-confidence, they fail to realistically identify their performance weaknesses and, since they don’t think that they need to improve, they put minimal effort into personal performance improvement activities. When left unaccountable for poor performance results they have no motivation to evaluate and adjust their ineffective approach, so as a result – the incompetent remain incompetent.

    Not only do the incompetent fail to recognize the level of their inadequacy, they are also unable to recognize real skill in others. Rather than putting in the effort to properly assess other people’s capability, the incompetent will rely on “effortless”, quick evaluations (“I know one when I see one”), and then later find ways to justify, even on a subconscious level, their poor assessment conclusions. This lack of evaluative capability contributes to their own ongoing mediocre performance because, after all, “you are only as good as the people around you”. By failing to surround themselves with people who possess the necessary skills that will offset their own real performance weaknesses, either internal team members or external specialists, they lose the opportunity to effectively close any performance gaps that can help them to be successful.

    Most of us have experienced this in our work environments. Often self-protecting, too many people will overestimate their personal, departmental or organizational performance capability and incompetently claim that “it’s not me (us), the other guy must have a performance issue”. Readily justifying or ignoring mediocre performance, its acceptance as the status quo, and their lack of effort to change it, they find it easier to continue to do the wrong things while insanely expecting different results. Supported by the widespread trend towards “fast and easy” that quite often is facilitated by rapid technological advances, it just takes less time and effort to muddle through today and neglect the long-term implications of decisions made. Rather than proactively exerting the effort to find new ways of moving forward, they reactively wait, sometimes so long that they “hit their bottom”, which only then scares them into making a change. Too often this eventual change acceptance is just “too little, too late”.

    When a manager says “I just don’t have the time”, it often translates into “I just don’t want to put in the effort to make long-term quality decisions despite the fact that the required information is more readily accessible today than it ever was. Hence they will quickly hire, protect, and fail to make accountable people who perform at minimal levels – and then, rather than accept personal responsibility for doing so, make excuses for their decisions. As a result, because of their incompetent approach, they are more likely to surround themselves with incompetent people, mediocrity and the justification of poor performance becomes ingrained in their organizational cultures, and a general reluctance to put in the effort necessary to change develops – on individual, departmental and organization-wide levels. When they do rid themselves of incompetent staff, yet fail to make changes to their evaluative approach, all they really accomplish is the creation of a “revolving door” organization / department that will be unattractive to people who actually have ability. And, while these managers should be afraid of the long-term personal career ramifications of these short-sighted effortless decisions, their incompetence fools them into thinking everything is alright.

    In contrast, proponents of the “less than average effect” believe that when some people see themselves as being below average they will put in the extra effort to improve their performance in order to compete. Never completely satisfied, and because they are afraid of falling behind (and failure), these people proactively adopt an ongoing self-improvement mentality. Their commitment to continuous skill development effectively “propels” them ahead of the 80% majority – this is what makes them above-average. And, by sustaining their extra effort over time, these top performers will always “dynamically” maintain their position ahead of their “static” average and below-average counterparts.

    Top performing people don’t wait, they never make excuses, and they get results. Understanding that “nobody’s perfect” they assume the “less than average approach” to their career development, they competently self-evaluate to honestly determine their performance capabilities, and they put in the required effort that will reduce their weaknesses in order for them to be successful. Whether through personal development initiatives or by surrounding themselves with people who have the skills that they do not possess (without feeling threatened by them), they take action in order to improve everyone’s performance. Minimalist job-seekers, who throw resumes around hoping to get hired or who rely on “connections” to get them employed, could learn from this. Those 20% of strong managers who control access to great career opportunities will have NO interest in making them available to a person who puts in minimal effort to get them, or who will perform at minimal levels once they do. It’s interesting how the 80% typically do not understand how this works.

    Put in the Effort to Be With the 20%

    If you want to experience real career, departmental and organizational success, you will need to put in the effort necessary to be successful – nobody is going to simply hand you success in this increasingly competitive business world. And since you are only as good as the people around you, you would be wise to put the effort into surrounding yourself with people who are also interested in success – otherwise their minimal effort will be detrimental to your performance. I speak from experience, understanding this is just as applicable to me (and CAES) as it is to you.

    In a recent conversation with an advisor, we discussed my concern about people (organizational representatives or individuals) who take a quick look at CAES but do not take the time to fully understand our approach and our potential solutions. “A lot of them seem to want to quickly categorize us, and to hear what they want to hear, despite the fact that their misconceived ideas, and poor past decisions, are what created their problem in the first place. They don’t want to put in the effort to understand that they have to do things differently if they want different results. So our marketing gets lost on 80% of the people in our network”.

    His reply resonated with me as well.
    “The market is telling you something. Stop marketing to people who need your services. At some level, everyone needs your services. Stop wasting your time trying to educate the individual or organizational minimalists – they just don’t get it and they never will. Position CAES to be the solution of choice for people who actually WANT to move forward and who will put in the effort to understand the value of your approach and your solutions”. In other words, he was telling me to focus on the 20%.

    Reflecting on this, I had to re-evaluate my assessment of demand for service. I knew that our original market for recruitment services had always been the 20% of above-average managers who want to hire the 20% above-average performers. Our hiring clients would never ask us to find them just an average performer. Similarly, the above-average candidates that we work with would never be interested in working with a mediocre manager. So selecting the right hiring client, and the right assignment, was just as important to our success. All of this has not changed over time – the organizations and people that we work with are all already successful – they just want our help to get to the next level. So, our market has always been the 20%.

    Perhaps we went slightly “off track” along the way – it’s easy to do. While we initially began with specialized recruitment and selection as our primary service, over the years we grew our performance-related knowledge base, which in turn positioned us to offer more services to a wider international market. Individual, managerial and organizational performance became the foundation to all of our services, and since, in our minds, everyone can always improve, the potential market became huge. All we had to do was to educate people on how to do it.

    And herein was the problem. As my advisor suggested, while there is a huge potential market for performance improvement – not everyone WANTS to put in the effort to improve. While we had increased our quantity of prospects, we also increased our interaction with the 80% minimalists who would never be a client in any form. By spending too much time trying to educate everyone who needs our help, we were not spending enough time on our real market – both the existing 20%, and those few people who actually want to leave the 80% to join the 20% “club”.

    “I don’t know what the key to success is. But I do know that the key to failure is trying to be everything to everybody”. – Bill Cosby

    While not entirely failing, and despite all good intentions, we were certainly wasting a lot of time on the wrong people. The good news is that our market has been telling us that we need to refocus on the above-average. The great news is that the above-average will actually tell us exactly who they are. From experience, we know that both the 20%, and the people who want to join the 20%, consistently display a common trait – they all put in extra effort. Whether potential clients, suppliers, partners, employment candidates – whomever – the people who really fit with us always put in the extra effort to interact, evaluate and understand our services and approach. They would never effortlessly expect “something for nothing” – it’s just not their nature. Our best fit relationships have always developed with people who understand that real results will occur when there is mutual participation in collaborative extra effort.

    In summary

    If you want to experience success, in whatever form, put in the necessary effort. Be honest about your capability so that you create the opportunity to improve, and surround yourself with people who will help you to be successful. Always strive to be a member of, and work with, the 20% minority who also want to be successful, and do your best to avoid spending too much time on the 80% majority.

    How will you know who is who? Try to look for “masked fear” in self-confident people – if you dig deep enough, and ask the right questions, you may be able to ascertain their fear based motivation to be successful. While many of the 80% will say that they put in extra effort (either exaggerating or self-deceiving), look for actual proof. Go beyond only evaluating the performance examples that they provide – evaluate how they behave towards you as well. Above-average people will actually display above-average effort in almost all of their behaviours and interactions with you – they don’t turn effort on and off.