Subject: What the best performance measurement for LO LO30996

Date: 03/01/04

Replying to LO30954 - "I am interested in input on the best pm for
learning organizations."

I think the best measurement for ANY organization is experiential:
our degree of involvement in whatever is at hand. "Involvement" can
be defined and measured with different degrees of precision
appropriate for different people.

Most businesses these days like to call themselves "results-driven."
In a typical company the primary concern and performance measurement
is of different aspects of productivity and the bottom line. However,
to use a simple, but effective analogy from Ken Blanchard ("Managing
by Values"): What kind of results could a tennis player hope for if
he kept focusing on the scoreboard rather than the ball? (Also:
"When people are in the zone, all of their attention is on what
they're doing, not on what they're accomplishing. The results just
seem to flow from this focus of energy and competence.")

And the typical emphasis on results can negatively affect employee
well-being. By focusing on results without a balanced attention to
their well-being, employees may produce a great deal during a long
work crunch, yet burn out in the process. Optimizing results does not
guarantee optimal employee well-being.

Conventional productivity measures can provide very helpful feedback
on work progress, but besides the fact that they ignore employee
well-being, we can question the scope for which such a measure can be
applied. How many of us have jobs where all we do all day long is make
one or two products? Most of us also do countless other tasks that are
not included in conventional productivity measures. How can
productivity be assessed at times when we're not making the products
that are measured? To foster truly continuous improvement, we need
feedback that is always available, no matter what task we're doing,
and even when we're changing tasks. So what does guarantee results and
Mastery Results from Increasing Involvement

Suppose you're preparing a speech. And suppose you're really into it,
very involved. The structure of experience is very simple: just the
flowing energy of work with a very clear awareness of the task at
hand. You write down a few key ideas that you want to present, then
visualize yourself giving the speech.

Then you feel a little puzzled about the order of the ideas. The
energy of the scenario starts to split: there's some momentum to just
write more ideas down, and there's also some motivation to feel the
confusion. Awareness is no longer clear: You are stuck and don't know
how to proceed. You look at the clock and wonder if you should take a
break. You feel your involvement in the task decreasing, and consider
ways to completely avoid the task.

You've reached what I call a transition point, where there's a choice
about whether to follow the tendency to fragment the scenario's energy
and awareness further, or to really focus on the confusion. At this
point, depending on your action, your productivity, energy, and
confidence can either decrease, continue gradually, or improve. You
know that taking a break now would waste time. You'd still have to
face things when you came back.

So you drop your distracting thinking about escapes and concentrate on
the task again. You remember being confused about the order of ideas,
and then realize it was actually the confusion that you wanted to
avoid. This time you let yourself get confused. Your thoughts go back
and forth about how to proceed, and then finally you get some insight
on rearranging the ideas to be presented.

Now you're really involved again. The work's flow picks up again and
gradually accelerates beyond your productivity before the confusion
arose. The scenario's structure has become simpler, more coherent and
integrated. (You can also check out an extended example of changing
involvement at

What facilitated the improvement in productivity? Wasn't it to feel
the confusion and see how you had decreased your involvement and
pulled away from the task? Wasn't it necessary to distinguish
productive directions from counterproductive directions, then choose a
productive direction and gradually become even more involved than you
were before getting confused?

Could we summarize and say that increasing productivity resulted from
noticing the transition point where your involvement could either
increase or decrease, making the scenario's structure either more
simple/integrated or complicated/fragmented, and then choosing a
direction of increasing involvement? Isn't this the natural way that
we improve productivity without even thinking about it?

At work you can periodically recall your recent experience as if you
were viewing a videotape replay, and look for ways in which you
weren't completely involved, just as tennis players look for ways to
improve their stroke. A high degree of involvement implies a melding
or identification of worker and objects worked on, a timeless and
effortless flow of events, and an unrestricted sense of openness
pervading the entire scenario. If you felt any separation from work or
the objects being worked on, if you and time's ordinary flow weren't
completely swept up in the energy of work, or if your work space felt
a bit emotional or heavy, you have identified a key to improving your
work game. This way of noticing your level of involvement provides
self-actualizing feedback useful in directly approaching peak

For a discussion of the relevance of involvement for quality and
well-being of the employees, see

Steve Randall, Ph.D.
Results in No Time - email:
Time Management Supersite:
Includes complete time management courses
land: 1400 Carpentier St, #202, San Leandro CA 94577


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