Pursue Enthusiasm Down the Most Fruitful Paths Towards Flawless Performance

When every fluctuation is costly, everyone wants to enjoy perfect performance. Unfortunately, many people have little idea of how to gain that performance even when the goal’s importance is clear.

Some like to use punishment: That means making it painful to make a mistake. But that approach will gain compliance rather than inspired effort. That’s fine is you are training your pet, but not if you want to soar beyond the rest of the world in pleasing customers and those who use your offerings.

Others like to use motivation: Encourage every good move. That’s good for improvement, but it doesn’t gain error-free performance.

What is needed? Start with natural excitement and build good communications around that excitement.

Let me put this advice in context: This is an important lesson for those who want to make lots of 2,000 percent solutions (ways of accomplishing 20 times more with the same time, effort, and resources).

The steps for creating a 2,000 percent solution are outlined below:

1. Understand the importance of measuring performance.

2. Decide what to measure.

3. Identify the future best practice and measure it.

4. Implement beyond the future best practice.

5. Identify the ideal best practice.

6. Pursue the ideal best practice.

7. Select the right people and provide the right motivation.

8. Repeat the first seven steps.

This article looks at practicing to become more effective in accomplishing step six, pursuit of the ideal best practice (coming as close to perfection as is humanly possible).

Excitement Wins

Excitement makes change easier to accomplish. As an example, consider how enthusiastic (and often inebriated) football fans learn to do effective card stunts displaying impressive images with less than five minutes of training and practice. The fans are excited to be at the game and want to increase the bragging rights of their experience to those who are watching on television. Those who like to be part of card stunts nudge their neighbors to participate and help correct for errors among those who are too impaired to perform well without guidance.

Pick a direction that excites everyone … or select a message that ties your direction into something that excites people. For instance, describe for employees how the changes support their personal values, can increase pay, and can open up the doors for promotion.

There’s Always Someone Who Doesn’t Get the Word

Communication success powers breakthrough change. In most organizations relatively few people hear about a planned change and understand what needs to be done. For a top-down initiative, roughly two-thirds of those at the top of an organization can describe what’s supposed to be going on with a change program. Among middle managers, the percentage drops dramatically. And at the lowest organizational levels, a mere handful of entry-level workers will know about the change program. Such a lack of understanding can be a roadblock when a new direction calls for everyone’s participation.

To avoid being stuck in communications stalls, focus on the need to repeat the message and to vary the method of communications, while applying lots of emotional reinforcement and inspiring people with relevance. The average person won’t appreciate far-ranging new ideas until they are explained at least 25 times and in as many ways. Shorten up the time that it takes to receive those messages, and you’ll do even better. Ideally, get the point across initially in 25 different ways during a single day.

Keep Your Eyes Open

While modest change projects work best by driving forward according to plan, major changes are often improved by midcourse corrections to their plans. While you are implementing your projects to go near the ideal best practice, periodically reconsider whether your approach remains appropriate. Knowledge advances so rapidly that you may have new choices. Also, experience with the project may lead to better ideas for subsequent steps.


Use the following questions to help select the right opportunities and move ahead of the rest of the world in the most favorable way:

• Which ideal best practice opportunities can help your organization’s stakeholders the most? Consider users, customers, customers’ customers, customers’ customers’ customers, suppliers’ suppliers, suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers, employees, employees’ families, partners, distributors, shareholders, lenders, suppliers, suppliers’ suppliers, suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers, the communities you operate in, and the rest of humanity.

• Which of these ideal-best-practice opportunities most excite employees?

• Which ideal-best-practice opportunities will provide the greatest benefits if successful?

• Which ideal-best-practice opportunities will be least harmful if unsuccessful?

• How does making the improvements required by each ideal-best-practice opportunity match your historical record for successful changes, and what can you do to improve your likelihood of success?

• Which scarce resources needed for developing the most attractive future best practices will be required to pursue each ideal-best-practice opportunity, and what other benefits will be lost as a result?

• Can the ideal-best-practice opportunities deliver substantial results every six months, or even more frequently? What will those interim results be?

• Can you afford the time and money to take four or more different approaches to designing projects for pursuing the most promising ideal-best-practice opportunities?

• What should the objectives be for the most promising ideal-best-practice opportunities?

• What are at least four attractive ways to implement any ideal-best-practice opportunities that you choose?

Copyright 2007 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved