How to Expand Human Performance

The speed of business is accelerating. Bigger problems. Bigger opportunities. Faster and more instant communication through texts, tweets, instagram, multiplied by millions of users contribute to the demand for more rapid decision making.

The problem is – complexity can be paralyzing. Complexity retards analysis, leads to poor decisions and erodes performance results. When the human mind is pre-occupied with facts, analysis and evaluation we make poorer decisions about everyday things. In a 1999 study titled, Heart and Mind Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition In Consumer Decision Making1, students were asked to memorize a number and report when they successfully completed their task. Once completed, students were rewarded with a choice of snacks. The research question focused on the decision making process for students with either a complex or simple memorization task. Some students were asked to memorize a simple 2 digit number, some were asked to memorize a more complex 7 digit number.

In the study, a majority of students with a 2 digit memory task chose a healthy snack compared to a majority of those with a complex memory problem who made unhealthy choices. In post evaluation surveys students making healthy choices reported a cognitive process–they thought about their decision. Students with the more complex memory problem reported their snack selection was based on emotion–they didn’t “think” at all. The obvious conclusion being,  pre-occupation left no bandwidth for solving new, albeit simple, problems. The mind was paralyzed and unable to engage more data, thinking, analysis or decision making.

So, with a world that is rapidly becoming more complex and with our computing bandwidth already functioning at maximum capacity how do we successfully meet the demands of modern business leadership and operation? Henry David Thoreau inscribed the answer on a piece of wood at Waldon Pond. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

While Thoreau advocated a simpler life style, my human and organizations performance company advocates the use of systems as a way to expand individual and organizational capacity. Over the last 30 years we have discovered some secrets about creating successful systems. Using these tools we have been able to help our clients achieve astonishing results over long periods of time. We help our clients increase productivity like we did for Black Tree, where they increased their client base by more than 200% in just 5 months. New revenues like we did for Lee Houghton at YESCO, where within 3 months of implementing Griffin Hill, he was able to break two YESCO Outdoor Media records. One being the highest number of deals closed within a month and second, the highest value deal closed in the same month. And shortened sales cycles like we did for Equinox IT Services, where we shortened their sales cycle, from 18 months to 4 months. These astonishing results are produced by employing Griffin Hill’s systems for sales and achievement. In sales, our clients learn and skillfully use our Griffin Hill Integrity Sales System™. In strategy and individual performance it is the Griffin Hill Strategic Impact System™ and SMARTER™ goals.

The secret to building systems that reliably expand the human capacity for problem solving and personal achievement is the use of process, plays, metrics and coaching. Repeated complex problems can be minimized to a process that reduces the need to puzzle over problem and solution. For example getting a sale is a complex problem that sales people wrestle with many times each day. But once a successful template is discovered, it can be refined and used over and over again. The template or the process rapidly duplicates successful results. Just like in athletics plays can be practiced refined and improved. In sales, plays advance the process. A sales person willing to learn and rehearse can hone their professional skills every day, just like a professional athlete. Metrics are used to test the process and the plays to make sure the sales person is getting the desired result. Metrics identify strengths to be leveraged and areas for improvement. Coaching, or feedback from an expert, insures rapid and continuous improvement.

As you deal with potentially paralyzing complexity in human performance and problem solving, consider systems for predictably and successful results. If you include process, plays, metrics and coaching you will be on the right track. Systems will help you to expand the limits of personal achievement and solve bigger problems at a more rapid rate. The result will be greater respect and bigger financial rewards.

To learn more about strategic impact systems that strengthen organizations, go watch our Success! Pyramid video. Also, feel free to comment below and let us know how Griffin Hill systems have help you reduce complexity.

1Baba Shiv. Heart and Mind Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition In Consumer Decision Making, 1999 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Retrieved from

Self-Evaluation: How to Measure and Protect Your Success

Warning! You are at risk! Dangers of misjudgment about your performance threaten your position, your job and your relationships. The scoundrel guilty of this mis-guided attribution of your performance is you! That’s right. Your own lack of ability in self-evaluation threatens everything you value.

Turns out we are not very good at self-evaluation. It doesn’t matter much if it’s a marriage or business partnership, we tend to over-estimate our value. Research shows that in work groups and teams we place greater weight on our contribution compared to others. It’s just the way we’re wired. Each individual in a work group is acutely aware of her own hard work but unable to judge the hours and effort of peers, team mates or even our spouse. The magnitude of our own work is readily available to us the effort of others is not. As social scientists we call this the availability heuristic. The misjudgment associated with this availability (or non-availability) of data we call the availability bias. It’s part of the research associated with ego-centric biases and attribution error.

One example of the attribution error comes from a study of Harvard MBA students (Caruso, Epley and Brazerman, 2004). Students assigned to work groups were asked to assign a value to their individual contribution. The sum of estimates for each team should have equaled 100%. They didn’t. The sum was 139%. Availability bias.

This bias and the associated error are easily explained and seem innocuous. They aren’t innocuous. They are dangerous and put you at great risk. Self-deception leads to self-destruction. Attribution error is a form of self-deception. As all the research shows, this brand of self-deception erodes trust in others, destroys marriages and partnerships and extinguishes personal performance and achievement.

The inability to evaluate our own performance is not restricted to teams it spills over to individual goal setting and achieving. Individuals over-estimate at least three things in personal goal setting: ends, means and effort. Poor assessment of ends, means, and effort extinguish goal setting behavior. That’s why most New Years Resolutions are abandoned within the first three weeks. When we stop setting goals, making plans for goal achievement and working toward goal accomplishment, we abandon any hope of reaching our full potential.

With the research stacked against us it appears we are doomed to a life of eroding relationships and poor achievement. Not so. There is Hope! The very tools we teach our clients at Griffin Hill neutralize attribution error and keep the destructive effects at bay. Coaching and measurement are the antidotes for poor self-assessment.

Coaching is the foundation for honest and skillful evaluation. Feedback from an expert will give you a more accurate perspective. Use care in selecting a coach. Your coach should have a proven system and be skilled in its use. Feedback from an expert does not include your idiot friend whose perspective will be rife with bias and whose advice will be rich in attribution error. Griffin Hill Coaching Technology™ has helped elevate results for our clients for more than three decades. Coaching Technology™ is a proven mechanism to combat attribution error and its destructive effects.

Two illustrations of how measurement can protect you are the Griffin Hill Scorecard™ and our SMARTER™ goals. Perhaps these examples will give you ideas that will help you, though space doesn’t allow a complete explanation here (the free goal setting guide will give you a quick explanation). We use Scorecard™ to help sales people measure productivity, proficiency and performance. It is simple to use and strips egocentric biases from the evaluation process. SMART goals are great, Griffin Hill SMARTER™ goals will astonish and delight. SMARTER™ goals will help you make better decisions about end goals and help you evaluate progress toward those desired ends. SMARTER™ goals guide you to better decisions about the goal achievement process and its efficacy. It’s a great tool that will help you to honestly evaluate your effort.

Immunize yourself against the destructive effects of attribution error that threaten to destroy you. Coaching Technology™ and SMARTER™ goals are two ideas that will protect you. They will help you to lose weight, make more money and reach your true potential.

Get your guide to SMARTER Goals here! 

Smart Goals: How to use Ancient Secrets to Gain Wealth and Success

You can decide. “Decide what?” you say. You can decide any number of things: what to wear, when to sleep, when to rise. But the most important decision you can make in 2015 is the decision to be an impact player. Decide that. Decide that Now. Say it. Say it out loud. “I will be an impact player.”

Now that you have decided, now that you have committed yourself by verbalizing your decision aloud, let’s talk about what it means to be an impact player and how you will go about keeping your commitment.

The secret of impact players was discovered by an obscure Italian boy named Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto was an engineer, economist, and social scientist and he discovered a secret about human achievement that had escaped the brightest minds in all the world. Pareto’s secret has the power to change your life.

While researching land ownership in his native Italy, Pareto discovered that 20% of the population owned 80% of the land. Something clicked and he began to see if the distribution pattern held true in other aspects of life. He discovered that 20% of the peapods in his garden produced 80% of the peas! A marvelous and powerful secret of productivity and human performance was exposed as Pareto researched and wrote about the Pareto distribution.

It was quality control expert Joseph Juran who stumbled onto Pareto’s writing and recognized the powerful secret as a breakthrough in human productivity and problem solving. It was Juran that coined the term, Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle is alternatively known as the 80-20 rule or the Law of the Vital Few. This powerful secret is used by the largest corporations of the world to secure their economic position. For example, Microsoft found by fixing the top 20% of the most reported bugs, 80% of errors and crashes could be eliminated. In another example, a 1992 United Nations report demonstrated that the richest 20% of the world’s population controlled 82.7% of The world’s income. (United Nations Development Program (1992), 1992 Human Development Report, New York: Oxford University Press). Empirical research shows that in large organizations, the top 20% produce 80% of the results. These are the vital few. These are the impact players.

The real secret is that there is room for you among the vital few! In your world, in your sphere, you can be among the 20% that create positive results. You can be among the movers and shakers that shape the world. Often times people use the acronym SMART goals to set goals. At least once each year Griffin Hill coaches share our unique brand of SMARTER™ goal setting with our clients. We help clients focus time and attention on activities that really make a difference. Inherent in Griffin Hill’s SMARTER™ goals is the commitment to evaluate and adjust every day, every week and every quarter throughout the year. That is one of the secrets to Griffin Hill client success. Now you can do it too. Choose a high leverage activity. Set a goal. Track your performance.

You can decide. Decide now! Say it. Say it out loud. “I will be an impact player this year. I will be one of the vital few!”