8 Steps to High Performance: A book review by Bob Morris

8 Steps to High Performance: Focus On What You Can Change (Ignore the Rest)
Marc Effron
Harvard Business Review Press (August 2018)

“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”
Peter Drucker

In a previous book co-authored with Miriam Ort, One Page Talent Management (2010), Marc Effron explains how almost any organization — whatever its size and nature may be — can use a three-step process by which to increase value while reducing complexity of talent practices by integrating behavioral science, simplicity, accountability, and transparency within those practices. This process is eminently sensible but, of course, its effectiveness depends almost entirely on how well it is planned, executed, and then sustained by those who adopt it. Effron and Ort duly note, “Because talent practices work only if they are implemented, ensuring successful implementation must be a primary goal.”

In 8 Steps to High Performance, Effron explains how almost anyone can accelerate their personal, growth and professional development by using an eight-step process. Again, how effective the process proves to be depends almost entirely on how well it is used by an individual. Each step has a specific strategic objective:

1. Set goals that create higher performance
2. Identify which behaviors predict higher performance in different situations
3. Determine how to grow more quickly the most important capabilities
4. Know with whom to connect…and why
5. Understand and adapt to your organization’s strategy
6. Know when you shouldn’t be the “genuine you”
7. Meanwhile, manage physical health to sustain performance
8. Eliminate all distractions in order to focus on what must be done and how best to do it

Obviously, compiling a list of steps is far easier than completing each of them. Hence the importance of the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Effron provides. He devotes a separate chapter to each of the eight steps, explaining the “practical tools” needed. Readers will appreciate the “Remember and Apply” section at the conclusion of each chapter. This material reviews key points, cites relevant science, and suggests what should be done or at least attempted. I strongly recommend highlighting while reading this book as well as keeping a lined notebook near at hand in which to record comments, concerns, questions, issues, and page references.

The book’s subtitle recommends focusing on what can be changed. My own preference would be to focus on [begin italics] what can be improved [end italics] with regard to what you do and how you do it. Toyota popularized the term kaizen, continuous improvement. It is a never-ending process even as specific goals are set and then achbieved. So, think of you career as a work in progress, an on-going journey. Think of Marc Effron is your mentor and travel agent, to be sure, but also as your tour guide each step of the way.

Bon voyage!

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