The BIG Question

There is a simple, yet powerful question that has the potential to change how we talk (and even think) about performance.  It is called the BIG question:

The BIG question is not just a question about performance.  It is about performance and potential, or what we call ‘performance potential’. So, it is future-focused and positive – something that is vital if people are to strive for Peak Performance.

While the BIG question seems straight-forward, it is actually a complex test of mindset and psychology.

Ask your team the BIG Question, but be prepared for a surprise! 

The New Normmal = 61%!

The BIG question has been asked of thousands of leaders  across 47 markets and 12 industries.  The average of all the answers is a surprising 61%.  

The data shows that organizations, business units and teams are on average performing at just 61% of their full potential. Some are higher and some are lower, but a statistical graph of the standard deviation clearly suggests a new normal.  That normal is the 61% standard for performance.

Here is the Paradox: Many organizations are meeting their targets, while a great number of their people are operating at between 55% and 70% of what they are really capable of.

Could this ‘performance paradox’ exist in your organization, or team?

Performance Losses

Next our research turned to understanding why most organisations and teams are operating at just 61% of their potential.  The result was a detailed database of almost 200 of the most common factors affecting the performance potential of teams across 47 markets and 12 industries.  We called these factors Performance Losses.  

Technically speaking, Performance Losses are the difference between the performance and the potential of an organization, team or individual.  It is a matter of fact term – designed to spur scientific measurement and objective analysis.  Also to de-personalize and de-politicize the debate about performance.   

One of the most powerful ways to drive performance is to tackle those factors that are preventing people from doing their best.  It is to systematically tackle what are called Performance Losses. 

We have developed a algorithm to analyze Performance Losses and a model to visualize the results.

Re-framing Performance

To communicate the latest science and psychology of performance, including the concepts of performance losses and performance potential, we turn to a model inspired by the performance-obsessed arena of F1 and in particular the pitstop.

model for a new generation….

There several reasons why…. the main one is cognitive re-framing

there is inspiration to be found in F1 and in particular the choreographed precision of the pitteam as it performs under extreme pressure….

Performance in business, as in F1™, is a complex equation of driver, team and machine.  The driver, well that is you!  The car is the various projects, initiatives, strategies and priorities that you are driving.  The pit team is the people you need to win – they keep your car on the road, monitor its progress and make important adjustments as needed.

In the quest to identify performance losses and transform them into gains, organizations must continually work on all 3 factors in parallel; driver, machine and team.  That is the key message at the core of the Pitstop Meta-model™.

Traditionally the focus has been on the driver or the car – that is the leader and the strategy of the organization.  However, it is becoming increasingly evident that this focus represents a significant blind spot.

According to data from such authoritative sources as Harvard and McKinsey, this driver or car only view of performance misses out on as much as 50% of the success of an organization.  A total view of performance must focus on all 3 elements of driver, machine and team.

In recent decades there has been an explosion in the science of teams and team performance.  To synthesise and make accessible the main findings of all this research the model tells the story of two business units or teams:

  • One unit or team is at peak performance – it is highly coordinated, efficient and cohesive. It has been carefully set up to ensure that the right people are in the right roles, doing the right work and so on.
  • The other unit or team is under-performing. It has been pulled together, with little attention to size, composition, or purpose.  It is rife with conflict, unclear on its purpose and struggling to do its work effectively. 

Built upon the principles of mental modelling and cognitive re-framing, the meta-model explores performance in the context of a pitstop for the driver, machine and team.

F1™ has pioneered many technologies that are today a standard feature of the everyday motor car.  But the sport’s obsession with design and innovation doesn’t stop there.  It has also been rigorously applied to the performance of not just machines, but people too.

The sport has transformed teamwork from an art to a science.  When it comes to team performance, F1™ started before the professors and consultants.  Indeed, for almost four decades F1™ has been innovating its own laboratory of team performance – the pit lane.

Performance Design

Look at the top of the meta-model (shown below). There are high levels of symmetry, co-ordination and interdependence.  The right people are in the right roles and they have the right tools too.  It just looks right. 

Team design requires quite a radical departure from the traditional approach adopted by managers.  It also requires the abandonment of some fundamental (and fundamentally mistaken) beliefs about team performance.  Principal among these is the belief that putting a team of good people together is enough to create a peak performing team.

Performance Dynamics!

The bottom of the meta-model contrasts with the peak performing team at the top.  It is a team in name only – a pseudo team.  This is a group of individuals, where everybody does their own thing.  People are pointing in every which way, chaos and confusion are the inevitable consequences.

Performance Dynamics is about fostering 8 key attitudes and behaviors that are required for effective collaboration. This is sometimes called ‘Culture’ or alternatively ‘Organizational Health’.