Definitions first, then data

In his article “Longevity, production and efficiency in rugby kickers: a re-analysis of Ken Quarrie’s kicking dataset“, Eoin Gubbins are explaining different ways of looking at the dataset on which  a study by New Zealand Rugby Union sports scientist Ken Quarrie, earlier mentioned in my post “What a study of rugby kickers can teach your business”  is built.

But – what he does, in a very interesting and well written article, is just that. He’s explaining that there is multiple ways to view a dataset.
That leads to a missing focus. So in the article Eoin introduces a focus, something he wants to study. In this case – greatness.
(To be perfectly clear, the study didn’t lack focus. On the contrary. But it wasn’t greatness that was the focus of the study.)

Eoin argues that the study doesn’t account for certain variables, but I would argue that until you’ve defined your focus, you can’t know which variables are required, obsolete or missing.

I’m also not arguing with Eoin, or the commenters of The Score, about the fact that greatness probably involves more variables than the study used, but then the study was not intended to rank players by greatness, only on a percentage altered to account for kick location on the ground, the context of the match (based on score difference and time elapsed) and which stadium the kicker was at.

So when wanting a list with the greatest kickers, Eoin has to come up with a definition of greatness – “true greatness involves production over a long period at a highly efficient rate” – to be able to create it. Greatness can be a lot of things depending on your view, but this was Eoin’s definition of it and when defining it this way, the study was lacking certain variables to be able to produce a list of the greatest kickers. So in that aspect Eoin was right.

So definitions first, so we know what we are looking for/at. Then we can select and study the data appropriate for the definition. Otherwise it’s just a matter of opinion/view and that is not what evidence based coaching and learning is about.
Thanks for a good article on some fascinating data, Eoin. And thanks for forcing me to think twice about definitions and data.

Triggers of golden questions

Every morning at work we have a stand-up meeting when our group talk about what we did yesterday and how that went, what we’ll focus on today and what we can prepare for tomorrow. The reason for this is so that the entire group can see what’s going on, who’s doing what and that all important tasks are taken care of.  It’s also a lot about learning. Why did it go well yesterday? What did I do that made that success possible or what was the main reason to my failure in completing the tasks I had focus on?

In a very structured meeting like this, where everyone answers the same questions with a specific purpose, it’s easy to find the right questions to ask yourself and eachother. But what about outside a meeting like that? What triggers those questions? Those you actually learn from?

Challenging the status quo

One of the most important things for learning to take place is to challenge the status quo, to be able to see a different reality as possible, and therefor asking the questions associated with that reality:

  • What if…? – to find alternatives to the current situation
  • What would it look like if…? – to see what a different situation would look like if one of the alternatives were true
  • What would it take to…? – to focus on requirements for something to happen
  • Why is it that…? – to create understanding and/or find root causes

When a different situation can be visualized or imagined, and also described with

  • root causes to the current situation
  • the alternative or different situation/solution
  • the effect it could have
  • requirements or a plan to make it come true

then it is much easier to learn from a situation and turn that knowledge into action and actually change the situation – if that is what you want.

This is an important part of coaching in both business and sports. For instance in the coaching model GROW.
So asking the right questions at the right time is key to any kind of learning which is required for any kind of structured change.

So how can you challenge the status quo?

By being convinced that there’s always a better way to do what you do and there is always more to learn, you can start asking yourself “What about this situation is currently unknown to me?” “What can I learn from this?” “What would a different angle on this situation be?” “How can this situation be better?” “What does great look like in this situation?

Questions like that are the golden questions, those you can learn from and challenge the status quo, the foundation of knowledge, change and improvement.

Finding triggers to golden questions

So do I ask myself these questions constantly? All the time? Isn’t that very time-consuming?
Well, yes, it could be. But it also makes changing things quicker and easier. So you have to find the right balance between challenging/questioning and actually performing work/change.

But certain situations are triggers of such questions, like

  • if you meet someone with a different opinion or angle of what you do
  • Or if you come in contact with metrics on what you do or the effect it has
  • Or if you see your contribution to the value chain in a bigger picture, for instance in a company-wide meeting with different divisions
  • Or, like in sports, how offence and defence in a team are interacting and working (hopefully) together towards a common goal.

Cherish those situations and expose yourself to them as much as possible to learn more about you and your situation. Then apply the questions, and the answers to those will provide you with the knowledge you need to act, comfortable with the fact that you’re doing the right thing.

This is of course not always as easy as it sounds. It’s a matter of practice to get better at this process – finding situations, asking questions, turning answers into knowledge into action and steering and following up those actions to create change, reaching goals and learning from the entire process.

This continuous practice is called a lot of different things depending on their angle – continual improvements, Lean, Six sigma and so on, but whatever flavour you choose, the fundamental base of getting better at what you do is the same. No matter if it’s in business or in sports.

So go find situations and people who trigger your golden questions. Happy hunting!

Videoanalys – Varför då?

This post is in Swedish only…

Denna film gjordes inför ett utvecklingsläger under sommaren 2013 för 16-17 åriga rugbyspelare som elitsatsar med målet att komma med i U18-landslaget under 2014, för att de skulle få en bild av vad videoanalys är och varför vi kommer att använda oss av det som en del i utvecklingen av dem som spelare och det U18-landslag som de hoppas bli en del av.

Filmen innehåller en del rugbyspecifika termer och scener, men fungerar precis lika bra för ledare och affärsfolk i alla positioner, för att förmedla ett budskap om varför man bör mäta (och hur) för att kunna säkerställa att man rör sig i rätt riktning och med rätt fart för att nå sina mål, dvs att ta ansvar för sin egen framgång.