Learning from sport – the process of performing

Do you think Fabio Capello will be asking the England players any of the following questions over the next few weeks?

Crouchy, what’s the score going to be against the US?
• Wayne, which minute you’re going to score in?
Franky, which foot are you going to score with?
• Jamo, will you keep a clean sheet? I need to know you won’t concede any goals.
Rio, when will you make you’re first clearing header?
• Stevie, who are you going to tackle first?

You can imagine the players would look in bizarre amusement if they got asked these kind of questions ever by a manager. In an erudite manner, the players would no doubt reply,

Mr Capello, sir, having considered your questions for some time, we are finding it rather difficult to answer them as our ability to predict the future is somewhat limited (although Mr Hoddle has someone who said she could do that, we think and we could see if we can find her). Would it be possible for you to ask us questions about the way that we’re going to play, rather than what we’re going to achieve. We feel that if we focus on the process of delivering our roles as well as possible and on getting better as a team in terms of the way we execute our tactics, then we will maximise the chances of getting the results that we all aspire to and as such by focusing on process excellence, we will deliver.

In reality, we know that Mr Capello and other great sport coaches focus on and ask questions about the process of performing, rather than agonising about the result – knowing what the desired result is doesn’t really work as a differentiator in the world of sport… so why is this point so completely overlooked in the world of business?

We’re sure you can come up with lots of sophisticated answers, but when all is said and done, if the corporate world spent more time agonising over getting better at how performance is managed, rather than being focused on forecasting results (and then explaining the inevitable variance from that forecast), then people would have a far greater sense of control and confidence at work and as a result people would be more motivated, improve and deliver better performances as a matter of course.

Listen to the questions you ask of yourself and of other people and work out whether you’re actually helping or hindering PERFORMANCE.