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Performance, Lines and Outcomes

July 23, 2010

Boundaries, lines, totals… they all represent a form of defining what
performance level is good enough.  In fact the term performance is a
void unless you have a measure for rating or comparison purposes.
I want to cover a couple of “lines” that are hidden performance boosters.
I describe them as hidden, because I find people miss them over
and over again.

But before I jump into this topic, I want to be clear that I understand
that lines can be harsh, uncomfortable to enforce.  Here in the US
we both want good performance from ourselves and others, and at
the same time get wishey-washy about the reality of lines.  You may
find the same to be true where-ever you are working.

But back to lines, or you could use the word boundaries or limits.

Here’s the first one.  Actually let’s just do one in this blog.

#1 Outcome is key, not your time, and every approach to
reaching an outcome, every effort, has a time limit

There’s always a time limit… to everything you do.  There’s also
a time limit to every approach.  A time to be finished by, a time
to give up or switch by.   I’m starting to sound like Ecclesiastes 3.

Whether you are capping the BP well in the gulf, pursuing a sales lead,
framing a house or writing software code for a feature… there’s only
so much time you can spend on any one approach if you’re going to
reach your desired outcome.  If you aren’t getting the outcome,
the performance needed, its time to change, switch, move on, get help, etc. 

By-the-way, that’s a high performance frame of mind.    Here’s what
the conversation sounds like in your head
if you’re not into

“I’ll just keep working until its done.”
“I’ll keep working until its time to leave.”
“I keep working at it as long as its interesting.”
“I’ll at least get started on it.”

Notice the difference? High performance tends to be outcome
driven.  Being Performance minded, means you’re
paying attention to the outcome and monitoring time remaining.
If your schedule is driven by closure, by commitment, by putting
in your time, by comfort, by … you fill in the blank, then what I
find is that you typically aren’t as nimble, you don’t make
adjustments in a timely manner.  You keep working processes,
issues, even goals, pass the point at which you should have made
a change.

Think about that, even if it’s the big limit of your time
on the planet.
If you operate without regard to a time limit, or say
to yourself,  I’m just going to keep working until it’s done or keep
working until I’ve put in my hours for the day, it usually means:
– you are going to chronically over-run time estimates in the
process of ignoring the clock
– you aren’t going to be very attuned to the messages others,
your customers and the market in general sends you.

If you don’t get this right in your head, you believe you’re getting
paid for the hours you put in, instead of the outcomes you are able
to deliver.  If you don’t get this right in your head, you will earn
less and accomplish left in the time you have remaining on the planet.

If I can avoid it, I don’t want you working for me or with me,
especially if it involves innovation.  Why?  You may be very nice,
buy you’re going to spend more time trudging along than I have time
to accommodate. By-the-way, I’m not alone in finding value in people
who can focus on the outcome, the time remaining… and get it done.

Bottom Line:

If you want to increase your value and get more done, you
likely need to change the way you think.  Performance thinking is
a way of regularly balancing the need to reach an outcome, with the
time remaining, with the relative success of whatever approach
you have adopted.  Let me write that one more time.  To improve
performance, you want to start operating with a constant awareness
of the outcome you want to reach, and given it’s value, how much time
it should take  you to reach it.  Be prepared to challenge your approach
to any outcome as soon as it looks like you won’t reach the outcome in
the time allocated.  Have fun!

Working Strategically and the three legged Stool of Outcome, Time and Value

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