Thought for the Day 13 June, 2017


Thought for the Day – 13 June 2017

Today, I was thinking about how people measure performance in work or in sport or in life.

In politics, measurement seems to be contained in reports, minutes of committees, through Judicial Enquiries or, in the last resort, going to court. Of course, all of these are a complete waste of time and taxpayers’ money. They are the illusion of performance not the actuality. Unfortunately, this paper-based approach is seen in many other places. For example, in Project Management of projects in many disciplines and industries; in any and all bureaucracies; in banking and insurance, and so on.

And often this is made worse by doing a big build up beforehand. We’ve all heard and seen the big advertising campaigns before elections and major sports events. In SA, the ANC promise a lot and deliver very little. And many of them are corrupt to add insult to the injury. The Springboks and the Proteas have huge build-ups on Supersport. And often the performance is a flop. Think about the 2016 Springboks, when we had a huge ad campaign with players running through walls, leaping chasms and high buildings and then they lost two thirds of their matches. And the most recent flop – the Cricket Champions Trophy, where we heard all about Protea Fire and what we got was ashes – again.

In my mind, it’s stupid to do these build-ups. I know they are there to drum up support for the competition in question. But, I think it’s far better to under-promise then over-deliver than it is to over-promise and then under-deliver. I also think that these teams believe their own propaganda and go into these situations, unprepared and mentally overconfident. We’ve all seen the results.

So, what’s the answer? I think we should get away from everything that is not a fundamental part of performance. That means, we promise what we can guarantee to deliver. No more and no less. Then we cannot under-perform. When we are doing the job, whatever it is, we always strive to deliver more than we promised. In this way, we will sometimes over-perform. Then nobody will be disappointed. Worst case we deliver what we promised, and best case we deliver more.

Great, so how do we measure? In my mind there is only one valid measurement – results. The job is either completed successfully or it isn’t. No amount of paperwork can change that. And success is defined as doing exactly what we said we would do, or more. Anything else is under-performance. And so my thought for today is:

“Show, don’t tell.”

Cheers, Dave


About Dave Macfie

Dave Macfie is the General Manager and Lead Consultant of Unique Advantage South Africa, a consulting company specializing in creating unique business advantage from purpose, analysis, insight, alignment and action. Dave’s qualifications include a double honors degree in mathematics and physics and a post graduate certificate in education. (Cum Laude) His career spans forty five years of experience in IT, business, property development and high school teaching. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with his wife Sandi and three of his seven children. Dave loves addressing business performance challenges, reading, writing fiction and non-fiction, gardening and spending time with his family.

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