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?)
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?)
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™.
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.