Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

Contagious High Performance?

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Some controversy surrounds the idea that a basketball player who has a “hot hand” will have increased odds of making the next shot. In fact the data show that in basketball there is no evidence that such a thing exists. However a recent analysis of baseball players who hit safely in 30 or more consecutive games showed interesting phenomena related to the hot streak. Twenty eight such streaks have happened since 1945 and not only did the player with the streak perform better but his teammates batting average rose by 11 points during the streak (Science News 1/26/13).

There were a lot of explanations given as to why the teammates of the hot player might also be playing better. It ranged from putting extra pressure on the pitcher to the excitement in the club house of having a streak going on, which I supposed you could call inspiring others to greater performance. I think though that I’ll hypothesize an explanation that was not given in the article and one which could extend to higher or enhanced performance in the business world. My hypothesis is one of opportunity. And opportunity can be both exciting and inspiring.

In basketball a major limiting factor to performance is time and how many points you can score within a certain period of time. In baseball the limiting factor is how many opportunities you get to perform before 3 outs happen in an inning. A hot player in basketball has no impact on the clock, the limiting factor – time simply marches on. A hot player in baseball, who does not cause an out and in fact creates opportunities for other good things to happen by getting on base, creates additional opportunity for the team, and influences baseball’s 3-out limiting factor.

So by performing at a higher level the hot baseball player creates additional opportunities for others to perform. And with additional opportunity the odds of others performing at a higher level will increase compared to when the opportunity is simply not present. You can’t shine if you are not given an opportunity to shine.

This line of reasoning can be extended to the business world or more generally to other organizations. For instance, if a sales force is “hot” generating a lot of sales, this gives additional opportunity for engineering, for manufacturing to shine and show what they can do to continue to give the sales force products that allow them to continue their streak. A virtuous cycle develops.

If those in a business or organizations deliver an exceptional work product or service to a client or customer, there is additional opportunity created for that business or organization. Customers or clients who are satisfied tend to repurchase and to purchase additional products or services. This high performance by those who delivered the exceptional service originally creates additional opportunity for others within the organization to also deliver an exceptional experience for the customer, an opportunity that would have been lost had the first experience not been a home run. The organization has to make sure that they don’t squander those opportunities of course.

Creating opportunities could be called a high performance contagion. If an organization or broadly a society cannot or will not create opportunity for its employees or citizens to have the potential to shine, high performance will be guaranteed not to occur. What can be done within an organization or a society to create as many opportunities as possible for people, children as well as adults, to shine?

Ask yourself, what have you done at work today to create opportunities for other’s to shine?  That may be a key towards enabling overall high performance in an organization.

© 2013 by Jeffrey M. Saltzman. All rights reserved.

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Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

February 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm

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