Spotting the Passion for Performance

November 12, 2013 by Wally Bock

Jack took a year off just after his freshman year in college. His grades were poor because he hardly went to class and he figured he could make some money. He worked in construction for a year. After that, he says, he was sure of one thing: “I knew I did not want to do that for the rest of my life.”

He went back to college with renewed purpose. His grades went up dramatically. He took leadership roles in the student body. Jack had discovered what he called “the passion for performance.”

Later when he and other executives went to colleges looking for engineers and managers, he looked for the pattern he had followed. He looked for engineers and potential managers who had been coasting and suddenly discovered the passion for performance. They hired lots of top performers that way.

I thought of Jack when I read a New York Times article, “Big Data’s Little Brother.” Here’s the bit that caught my eye.

“The idea is simple: With all that processing power and a little creativity, researchers should be able to find novel patterns and relationships among different kinds of information.”

New data analysis tools give us the ability to do two things. We can use them to identify patterns in data. And we can use them to check on a perception, like Jack’s, to assess potential payoff. Just don’t expect the computer to do all the work.

You need people to ask the questions. Computers are great at answers, but they can’t come up with penetrating questions. We need to people to define the task for the computers. With that combination, you will probably find new indicators and drivers of that elusive “passion for performance.”

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Selection

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