Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Notes to Myself - Impact vs Effort

Found this on LinkedIn.  From his blog on Everyday Leadership. 

Impact vs. Activity

David Driftmier
Global Delivery Lead at Quisitive

Talent Management. Reviews. Fitness Reports. Evaluations. Regardless of name, organizations everywhere spend tremendous amounts of time and energy assessing their people. Approaches to doing so vary wildly. I spent years watching the people review system at the company for which I worked change and evolve over time – mostly for the better. The various approaches to performance management are beyond the scope of this article, but I will instead focus on one important aspect – impact. Focusing on actual impact may seem like a no-brainer, but in decades of conducting one-on-one performance evaluations, the most common mistake I witnessed was the tendency of both individual contributors and managers to focus on activity and not impact. 

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is a common management maxim and while basically true, it often leads people to identify only obvious and easy measurements. These measurements are often activity-focused and not impact focused. A common metric, for example, among marketers is “butts in seats.” It may show up in a performance review like this:

"This fiscal year, I conducted 54 awareness events attended by 3,456 potential customers."

Sounds good, right? This person touched a large number of people and presumably good things happened. The problem is this statement measures activity and not impact. Perhaps the events had poor content, leaving the attendee less inclined to purchase the product. Hopefully not, but left with only a statement of activity, there is no way to tell the true outcome. So, what does an impact statement look like opposed to an activity statement?

"This fiscal year, I conducted 54 events that resulted in attendees being 23% more likely to buy from Acme Chemical and driving $450,000 in incremental revenue."

$450,000 is impact. 54 events is activity. The employee in this example correctly connected the two. While this is a straightforward concept, failure to follow it is incredibly common. Why? Three reasons:

1)     When someone works hard, they want to be recognized for that hard work. This often shows up in statements such as “I averaged 50+ hours/week this year.” Or, “I gave up my vacation this year.” While working harder may result in more impact, it isn’t always so.

2)     Activity measurements are easier to identify. In the example, the number of events and attendees is a readily-available and straightforward measurement. Teasing out the actual business impact may take additional effort and analysis.

3)     Business or mission impact can be difficult to quantify or prove. A product launch is a classic example. If a new product is wildly successful, is it the result of brilliant design, a stellar advertising campaign, an extremely efficient distribution channel, or superior manufacturing? Isolating the true drivers of impact can be difficult. During the lifecycle of the product or service it may be easier to adhere to the “change only one thing at a time” approach that makes isolating changes more straightforward. Finally, the common pitfall of correlation versus causality often occurs. “I worked an average of 10 hours of overtime per week, resulting a 15 cent increase in earnings per share at Enormous Corp.” Nice try, but proving causality for that one will be difficult.

Good leaders work this problem from both ends. When managing the performance of others, they work with their teams to ensure their goals reflect business impact and not simply activity. When discussing performance with individuals, they work to identify impact statements versus activity statements and help the team member understand the difference. When the leader’s own performance is being evaluated, he or she works to ensure they only focus on the impact they had on the mission or business and not on their own activities or effort. Most of us would readily agree that we would rather have someone on the team who sells more, produces more, or is more creative, than one who is simply always busy. Make sure both your words and actions line up with this desire.

Eisehnower's Important and Urgent Principle

Eisenhower's Important and Urgent principle


Sunday, March 19, 2023

Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakam - Movie

 Malayalam. 2022. Mammootty. 

How these people make these films is amazing. But this is about a bunch of Malayali pilgrims (Christian) who go to Velankini to ask for some favour from Mary matha. On the way back James, a married man who is on the tour with his wife and his teenaged son, gets off in the middle of nowhere, wanders off into a Tamil village and assumes the role of Sundaram, a man from that village who went missing. It takes a while for Sundaram's spirit to leave James's body after having got some closure with his family. In those two days much happens that shows human character at its best and at its worst. Watch!


Phalana Abbai Phalana Ammayi - Movie

 Srini Avasarala has a fine and subtle sensibility. He has a fantastic sense of humour, works hard and knows his craft. So I rushed to see his latest film which looked very interesting - one with conversations.

It's the story of a boy and a girl who meet at an engineering college in India, become good friends, go to the UK to study, fall in love despite their intention to remain good friends, find issues that all confused relationships have and finally clear up their misconceptions and get back together. Fairly straightforward but somehow it just does not stick together. Its rather confusing because it keeps flitting back and forth and we lose track of whether it is now or then. Malavika Nair stands out. Harini Rao shines in her cameo. The UK landscape was interesting.

More on this later but I have great faith in Srini and know that he will keep making films he believes in. When you push certain ideas, its always a risk. But then one needs to take risks and not the safe path. So Srini, well done and come back soon without changing what you are about. 

Ganbatte - Albert Liebermann

 The tagline says 'The Japanese Art of Always Moving Forward'. It is just that. I like the idea of saying ganbatte instead o fgood luck because ganbatte talks of effort, of standing firm. In simple ways it is about doing your best and not giving up. Or as the Japanese say - fall down seven, get up eight times.

To illustrate this spirit the author takes us through some wonderful Japanese practices, art, philosophies. The book starts with this painting 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa' by Katsushita Hokusai. It is this great tidal wave that is at its top and a fishing boat caught in it - and all the fishermen have to do is ganbatte. So we realise that life is not just about starting things but about finishing them. That we do not shy away from the difficult - like the US Army Coprs says - the difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes longer.

There is this story of the archer who seeks a guru to teach him to be the best archer. The guru tells him to shoot at the moon and come back. The archer tries his best to shoot at the moon and returns after a few years and says that try as he did, he could not shoot the moon and that he is a failure. This is when the guru says that just by shooting thousands of arrows at the moon in these years the archer has already become a master. He says 'the archer aims at himself'.

Stories of how the longest journeys begin with a single step. The one about Jiro Ono, the legendary sushi maker on whom there is a documentary called Jiro Dreams - and his obsession with improvement. Jiro's secret - do the same thing over and over again, improving bit by bit. Immerse yourself, fall in love with your work.    

Kibo is the word for hope and the author switches to the story of Pandora who opens the dreaded box full of evils (a set up for no fault of hers) and what remains last is Hope. That is why they say that after everything 'there is always hope'. The author also directs us to a film of 'The Man Who Planted Trees'.

The concept of Wabi Sabi seeks beauty in imperfection, says that nothing is perfect. Da Vinci apparently said this ' a work of art is never finished, it is only abandoned.' I love it. 

In the same vein their is the Japanese practice of Kintsugi where they repair broken things with gold - saying that which is broken is more meaningful. It is a huge thing and must be taken into cognisance. And then there is Kaizen - which is change to improve. Today better than yesterday, tomorrow better than today. 

Picasso said - Inspiration exists but it must find you at work.  

Katana swords are now works of beauty, rare pieces. The author dwells on what cannot be seen but can be felt - and cites the example of how director Akira Kurosawa filled medicine chests with medicines because the actors would feel more authentic while performing the role of doctors even if there were no scenes where they opened the draawers.

More examples of people like Dick Hoyt who ran for his son who had cerebral palsy - in fact Dick ran with his son Rick on his back - a 1000 competitions, 250 marathons, 6 Iron Man competitions (a marathon+112 miles of cycling+2.4 miles of swimming - without a break).

Get rid of the second arrow because that will make you take the first one lightly. The example of Joseph Merrick 'The Elephant Man'. There is reference to the koans (this is the sound of clapping your hands, but what is the sound made by a single hand?')

One interesting thing I found was the reference to Japanese exercise- apparently most Japanese do this form of exercise (its on YouTube) called Radio Taiso, which is a 5 minute guide to fitness. I like it.

So, he says, try, give your best and don't give up. You will fall as you go forward but that's OK, even as you fall, fall forward. I finally understood what fall forward means!

Interesting book.     

Coaching Stories No 17 - When Giving Feedback Keep the Entire Journey in Perspective

 I am scared to give feedback because they might get upset.

People get upset when we point out something - however gentle. The key to remember here is that what they are mostly getting upset is that we are not recognising the entire journey and are only pointing out their mistakes which are minor in perspective. In fact that one error may not really be a huge thing but she will be a better person for getting the feedback.

So, the first thing to remember is

1) feedback must have a positive impact in learning, behavior etc
2) before giving it, try not to focus on the issue only. Instead look at the entire journey (for eg. If you find a mistake in a book, look at the entire effort that went into making that book, or a film or an essay or painting or whatever)
3) start from that perspective that you understand and see their journey and what went into this project

This will make them feel a lot more secure and they will now be open to listen to you simply because they now feel that you understand their journey, their perspective. When they feel less threatened, they will listen ore openly.

4) having put that into perspective, now gently come to the point where you feel there could be an improvement. Don't simple show problems, offer solutions.

The key I realised is to make them understand that you know their journey.