Perf Improvement LO14683

Ray Evans Harrell (mcore@IDT.NET)
Wed, 13 Aug 1997 18:09:57 -0700

Arbitrarily linked to LO14652 by your host...

> What I think you are saying is that coaching in the corporate setting
> should be focused on the group, or the team, kind of like the
> maestro "coaches" the whole orchestra.

Hi Geoffrey,

I think that the focus must be on the product. The purpose of a conductor
is to negotiate a product that is more efficiently produced then the group
going it alone.

But a conductor is not a panacea. A conductor/coach can create a lazy
group who is willing to give their power away and that has to be almost
whipped to respond. In fact there are ensembles that become addicted to
this type of hostile energy in their performances. They simply won't
perform without that kind of instantaneous hostile feedback from the
"tyrant." The tyrant also functions as a buffer between the orchestra and
both audience and orchestra's critical judgment because he is the "sole
artist" responsible for the product, they are "safe" from the insecurity
inherent within all performance. I would add that people as highly skilled
as orchestral musicians suffer severe attitude problems under such

I would point out that the stress within orchestras and performing arts
companies is almost at the intolerable level. A few years back there was
a test reported in the NYTimes where they judged psycho-physical stress in
the various professions. The two highest for psychological stress were
jet fighter pilots and the Berlin Philharmonic under von Karajan. The
highest physical stress was the New York City Ballet with a high incidence
of performance while injured. The physical stress was more than the major
professional football teams tested. Some primo danseurs even performed
with broken bones in the feet.

Chamber ensembles with no conductor/coach create an alternative model to
the conductor/coach model. In many cases the conductor is only necessary
to make sure that the tempos are timed to the physical computer stage
effects that are operating on a digital system. Without the conductor,
the chamber opera orchestra would not be able to coordinate with the
sophisticated scenery changes. This could be life threatening as was
proven at the Met Gotterdammerung when the Brunnhilde was almost literally
killed at the end of the opera during the Immolation scene.

> What this means is that
> coaching one-on-one in the corporate setting should not be a major
> role of managers, rather they should be focusing on the
> coaching/coordination of the team. Is that right ?

An unprepared member of a team can do irreparable damage to the team's
product. It doesn't matter what the reason for the lack of teamwork, the
teamwork itself is the creator of the product. I know of men killed in
the ironworks because they got the timing wrong on the wire that was being
manufactured. Once you see a human being wrapped in superheated red hot
wire that was timed wrong by a co-worker you feel the edge of time as a
terminal reality. Teamwork is crucial to all LO ensembles.

You have good and you have bad ensembles. That is the first and only
rule. You also have jobs where a bad ensemble only damages the profit
margin and those are the ones that I would imagine are hardest to
motivate. Commitment to money as motivation is like commitment to sex
without love, it has a callow temporary ring to it. Money should come as
a result of quality and quantity but there must also be a deeper meaning
to the work in one's life. (I'm old fashioned about this.)

I suspect that it was that problem that made the silk mills in England
create community structures where there was a total environment from
cradle to grave. That C to G environment made poor workmanship and poor
cooperation next to original sin in the eyes of the worker's community
even though no one would die if the mill didn't function perfectly.

In the English and Welsh mines, singing and marching bands were used
externally to create community care and company teamwork that included the

The problem that I see in today's work maybe just the opposite. That a
community is being created in the workplace, with coaches and immediate
rewards that excludes the worker's family and their children. I believe
Fortune did an article on this a couple of months ago.

So, quality as a result of pride, quantity as a result of commitment to
physical goals and productivity the result of company "economies of
scale." The first two are worker controlled the third is the efficiency
of the manufacturing process itself and belongs to management.

It still comes down IMO to individual pride in skill, company commitment
to team development and fulfillment that balances profit with product with
the ability for all to have a life worth working for. I would add that
this type of company worker advances because they would feel stupid
without the advancement. Nothing can be worse for such a worker than
stopping their growth and company advancement.

"Hired Hands" on the other side of this have never discovered an internal
reason for doing their job other than the paycheck. I think that you will
have to wait a generation to change that. Short-term change workshops
brag a lot about success with this group but over the long haul, I dont
see it.

Arts in the schools are a better start towards building that kind of
employee in my experience. The type of alone practice at an instrument,
day in and day out builds focus, commitment and an expectation of success
at the task. Or the physical pain of ballet bar work or shaping the foot
to fit a point slipper. Such pain can make a grown athelete cry while
giving an adolescent girl a profound determination to succeed. Not bad
habits for a company LO.

So the purpose of company coaching is the success of company tasks.
Better workers are a result of that success. Like teaching Multiplication
and Division in arithmetic. The only reason to learn those GD tables is
to add and subtract faster and more easily in your head. Without that
knowledge the only motivation is the teacher's stick and that has to break
the will of the student in order to succeed. A terrible place to begin to
build a vital creative employee IMO.

I hasten to add that this is my experience in my own work and that is
surely different from the latest models and work processes available to
major companies today. I even feel a little "funny" putting this out but
I do have my successes and I am proud of them as well.


Ray Evans Harrell


Ray Evans Harrell <mcore@IDT.NET>

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