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Your Organization's "Secret Sauce"- Discovering Positive Deviant Wisdom

Your Organization's "Secret Sauce"- Discovering Positive Deviant Wisdom

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Do some of your people consistently and systematically outperform others? Is there financial or strategic value in raising the performance of the many to the level of the few? If you answered "yes" to these questions, then gathering and using the 'secret sauce' of these top performers, these "Positive Deviants," will be of considerable value to you.
Do some of your people consistently and systematically outperform others? Is there financial or strategic value in raising the performance of the many to the level of the few? If you answered "yes" to these questions, then gathering and using the 'secret sauce' of these top performers, these "Positive Deviants," will be of considerable value to you.

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Published by: William Seidman, Ph.D for Cerebyte on Sep 15, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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© 2002 Cerebyte, Inc. (Updated 2008)1
Your Organization’s “Secret Sauce”
Discovering Positive Deviant Wisdom and Closing the Performance Gap
William Seidman, Ph.D.Michael McCauley
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
 
Top performers (“Positive Deviants”)have a “secret sauce” that consists of their mental models, subtle cueingmechanisms, action plans, risk management strategies and manyother capabilities
 
The secret sauce is largelyunconscious, but is the real difference between Positive Deviants and lesseffective personnel
 
Discovering the secret sauce can provide significant performanceimprovement impact
 
It is easy to identify the PositiveDeviants and motivate them to participate in the Wisdom Discovery
  process
 
The Positive Deviant secret sauceconsists of:
o
 
An “ecological survey” thatframes the situation
o
 
Patterned behaviors which arehighly efficient actions required to be successful in the situation
 
Even for such complex areas aslaunches of interplanetary vehicles,wisdom discovery takes a maximumof only 30 hours before the content isready to “coach” less experienced personnel
 
It is essential to have a plan toleverage the secret sauce in order tocreate significant value
 
Digital Coach Technology
is criticalto wisdom discovery and reuse
 
Companies using DCT
generatemillions in additional sales and profits
This is Part 1 in a series of articles onthe discovery and reuse of Positive Deviant wisdom. Thisarticle focuses on thediscovery process.Other articles focus onthe practical application of Positive Deviant wisdom bynon-experts and theuse of DCT™ toleverageimprovements.
 
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© 2002 Cerebyte, Inc. (Updated 2008)2
Your Organization’s “Secret Sauce”
Discovering Positive Deviant Wisdom and Closing the Performance Gap
A COUPLE OF QUICKQUESTIONS…
 Do some of your peopleconsistently and systematicallyoutperform others? Is there financial or strategicvalue in raising the performanceof the many to the level of the few?
If your answer is “yes” to thesequestions, then gathering and usingthe “secret sauce” of these top performers, these “Positive Deviants,”will be of considerable value to you.Positive Deviants’ secret sauce is their true tacit wisdom. It is their mentalmodels, subtle rules of thumb,early problem detectionmechanisms, attention allocation processes, and actual work effortsthat enable them to consistentlyoutperform others. In addition, itis a deep, passionate commitmentto the success of the process thatcauses the Positive Deviants toapply their specialized wisdommore intensely and profoundlythan non-experts.Is the Positive Deviants’ secretsauce worth exploring? You bet!Companies that systematicallydiscover and apply the PositiveDeviants’ secret sauce consistentlyreport spectacular performance gainssuch as:
 
80% reduction in planning time
 
50% reduction in training time
 
30-50% reduction in task  performance timeIn this article, we are going to provideyou with a process to quickly identifythe Positive Deviants in your organization, explore the methods thatthey use (their “secret sauce”),effectively discover this secret sauce,and successfully reuse it to enhanceyour organization’s productivity.
BUT WHO ARE THE“POSITIVE DEVIANTS?”
Surprise! Everyone already knowswho the Positive Deviants are in anygiven function or domain. Peoplealready have an exceptionally rich,highly consistent, comprehensivemental map of the expertise in theorganization. Consequently, instead of having to purchase and developexpensive, ineffective profilingsystems, all you have to do is identifythe area you want to improve and ask a few key managers or senior  professionals two simple questions:
 
“Who are the people I mostrespect for their ability to perform in the domain inquestion?”
 
“When these people tell me howto solve a problem, do I both believe them and act on their  proposed solution?”When we asked for a list of PositiveDeviants in a performancemanagement process at a semi-conductor manufacturing company,the VP of Corporate HumanResources initially said that hecouldn’t possibly isolate them.However, after a few seconds, he paused and said, “Actually, these are
Surprise! Everyone alreadyknows who the Positive Deviantsare in any given function or domain.
 
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© 2002 Cerebyte, Inc. (Updated 2008)3
the Positive Deviants,” and proceededto list 10 people. This is typical.We’ve found that, to an amazingdegree, most people in theorganization familiar with the domainin question will come up with avirtually identical list of names.Corporate knowledge of thesePositive Deviants has twosignificant implications for achieving the ultimate goal, animprovement in performance.First, because there is such a highlevel of agreement on who thePositive Deviants are, their  participation in the process createsinstant credibility. Just becausethey are participating, manyothers will support the initiative.Second, the content they produce islikely to be more robust andmeaningful and will be treated byeveryone as more valuable. Thisquality is critical for acceptance byless effective personnel.
GETTING THE POSITIVEDEVIANTS INVOLVED
Conventional wisdom says that youmust provide Positive Deviants withsome incentive to participate. Nonsense! It is easy to get PositiveDeviants involved if you tap into their intrinsic motivation and professionalism. You should begin byasking them the following simplequestions:
 
What percentage of your job isin some way a repetition of  previous work?
(Usually theanswer is 60-80%.)
 
 
How do you like doing theserepetitive tasks?
(They’re“OK.”)
 
 
What do you do with the other 20-40% of your time?
(“Meet with people.” “Design things,”etc.)
 
 
How do you like doing thesethings?
(“These are fun.”)
 
 
Which do you think drives your compensation more, therepetitive things that presumably others can do or thecreative things where you reallyadd your expert value?
(“Thecreative things.”)
 
 
If you could use an approachthat allowed you to spend lesstime doing the repetitive thingsthat you don’t really like andmore time doing the creativethings that you do like, wouldyou be willing to participate inthat approach? Not surprisingly, the Positive Deviantswillingly participate every time.
THE SECRET SAUCE
The structure and content of thePositive Deviants’ secret sauce isactually quite different from thefoundations underlying currentsystems. In particular, PositiveDeviants do not use branching probabilities (the foundation of decision trees, artificial intelligence or expert systems). They also don’t relyon generalized searches of databasesfor appropriate content (thefoundation of most enterpriseknowledge management systems).Instead, Positive Deviants employ amuch simpler, more robust andfocused model that underlieseverything they do. This model hasonly two elements:
 
An “ecological survey” that points them to a limited number of core behaviors
 
Patterned behaviors based onthe survey results
 It is easy to get  Positive Deviantsinvolved if you tapinto their intrinsicmotivation and  professionalism.

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