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Promoting Performance Newsletter
As a firm committed to developing expert performance, Performance Matters, Inc. is pleased to offer this Newsletter as a service to those who strive to lead and achieve.
Gaining the Edge Through Expert Preparation
In a much cited quote, basketball coach John Wooden observed “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” A recently completed study provides just a bit more insight into the preparation of top achievers. The study identified and described the extent, function, nature, and timeline of practice and preparation activities undertaken by experts in order to adapt to unique constraints of specific, upcoming competitions. The participants were 15 expert orienteers and 6 experienced orienteering coaches. Several key concepts were revealed. First, specific preparation was necessary because the constraints of a given competition are not the same for the next.
Thinking Outside the Box
According to current theories of expert performance, experts gain an advantage by acquiring through practice cognitive skills and strategies that increase the efficiency with which information specific to their domain was processed. Consequently, experts are able to circumvent natural processing limitations. In this study, a description is provided of how experts make use of strategies that involve adapting physical elements of their domain environment to reduce cognitive workload during performance. Telephone interviews were conducted with 15 expert orienteers and six coaches of national orienteering squads about how expert orienteers carry and arrange their navigational equipment while orienteering.Read more ›
A recent review of research clearly indicated that intuition has value for organizations. Intuition plays a major role in the decisions people make. Intuition is a real phenomenon and contributes to effectiveness, especially in situations where it counts (e.g., time-pressured complex decision making in the real world). Although there is compelling research on how intuition works, the conditions under which it works best, and how to improve intuitive expert decision making, there is much work to be done. Although the label intuition is frequently ascribed some transcendental quality, the phenomenon is real. It is important to organizational effectiveness and the management sciences to contribute to the practice through more and rigorous research into the nature and development of intuitive decision-making skills.
Personality and Performance
Two studies from the United Kingdom examined the relationship between personality traits, performance strategies, and training behaviors. Ninety-three competitive male and female gymnasts participated in the studies. The results revealed additive and interactive effects of personality and performance strategies on training behaviors. Three findings were consistent. First, personality was related to training behaviors. That is, conscientiousness was related to quality preparation; extraversion was related to distractibility; and emotional stability was related to coping with adversity.
Know More, Innovate More
The greatest innovators in a wide-range of fields—business, science, painting, music—all have at least one characteristic in common: They spent many years in intensive preparation before making any kind of creative breakthrough. Creative achievement never came suddenly, even in those cases in which the creator later claimed that it did. Whether it was the transitor or the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album or the cell phone or Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, it always followed a long earlier period of extremely hard work, and in most cases the creative products themselves were developed over a significant period.
Praise doesn’t Motivate
Leaders, teachers and coaches often praise to motivate. A recent study involving 464 students from 2 Universities reveals that this practice may not be working. The researchers found that the only outcome directly affected by praise, however, was motivation. Students presented with praise re- ported lower levels of motivation, higher levels of ego involvement, decreased levels of task involvement, and higher perceptions of success while exhibiting modest performances compared with students not praised on their work.Read more ›
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