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Pole Vaulter

The Fundamental Principle of Human Performance™   

The Centerpiece of our Work

"Human performance in any endeavor is determined by a person's

Means, Motive, and Opportunity to perform the given task."

Is everyone in your organization performing as well as you'd like them to? 




          When you distill performance down to its essence, a fundamental
principle emerges. This fundamental principle is exceedingly simple and
therefore, profound. And it’s essentially bulletproof: It holds true in every
circumstance and covers every situation. I call this simple, always-true rule
for how the world works The Fundamental Principle of Human Performance™.
It says that:


          Human Performance in any endeavor is a function of three factors:

                     1) a person’s Means to perform the task,

                     2) their Motive for performing it, and

                     3) the Opportunity they have to perform it.


Each of those breaks down as follows:



          a) physical capability to perform the task (Are they strong enough,

              fast enough, tall enough, short enough, etc?)

          b) knowledge (What do they know in their head?)

          c) skills (What can they do with their ‘hands’?)

          d) experience (How many times have they performed the task or

              something like it?).



          a) commitment (Do they have a burning desire to accomplish the

              task for some purpose?)

          b) motivation (Are they hungry for the carrot on the end of the stick,

              or are they afraid of being clobbered with said stick?),

          c) confidence (Do they think they can perform the task?)



          a) resources (Do they have what they need to get the job done?)

                 1) time (hours available without other tasks to do)

                 2) talent (access to experts and raw manpower)

                 3) treasure (physical assets and budget)

          b) barriers (Are the roadblocks, speed bumps, or impediments out of their way?)

                 1) policies

                 2) procedures

                 3) practices

                 4) processes

                 5) rules

                 6) regulatory constraints

          c) physical environment (Is it too loud/quiet, hot/cold, bright/dark, smelly,

              dangerous or unpleasant to perform the task?)

          d) incentives (Does the organization reward performing the task?)



                                         Center of Effort


          That makes 11 factors to a person’s performance on any task you

pick. It doesn’t matter what endeavor you choose, anyone who undertakes

that endeavor will perform at a level that is defined by their particular mix

of Means, Motive and Opportunity™.

          Tying your shoes, doing a crossword puzzle, processing an insurance

claim, managing a department, flying a 737 – they all work according to

the Fundamental Principle of Human Performance™.


          In the end, the level of performance is dictated by the person’s share

of each of the 11 factors of Means, Motive and Opportunity™.


                                        Center of Effort


          So here’s the first big implication of that: If you or someone you know

isn’t performing as well as desired (perhaps it’s a requirement to hit some

established standard, or perhaps it’s a stretch to “the next level”) the reason

lies somewhere in Means, Motive and Opportunity™.

          The second big implication is even more important: Each of the factors 

has a specific remedy. So if you know which of the factors is holding back superior

performance, you can apply the remedy to just that factor, and performance will

improve. In fact, making an adjustment to the right factor is the ONLY way to 

get performance to improve.


Means, Motive and Opprtunity Diagnostic Worksheet