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Unforced Errors — A Killer To Effectiveness

by David Brock on July 2nd, 2008
I just read a brilliant Post on the Slow Leadership Blog entitled: Why Organizations Make Unforced Errors. Frankly, I can’t state it better than has been already stated, but I will extract a few key points.

The concept of forced and unforced errors comes from sports (I know, we tire of sports analogies, but this one is important). Forced errors occur because the opponent is playing better than we are. When I speak, I frequently challenge organizations to OutCompete the competition. By this, I am referring winning through superior skill, offerings, value, or execution. OutCompeting the competition involves performing at the highest possible levels—and doing it on a sustained basis.

Unforced errors are the things we do to ourselves. They have little to do with the opponent or the competition. As stated in the blog, unforced errors result in us throwing away our advantages.
For the most part, unforced errors are avoidable—high performing people and organizations set themselves up to eliminate unforced errors.
Effective teams, working well together, completely aligned in purpose, strategy, focus, roles/responsibilities, make fewer unforced errors in executing their strategies.
Organizations and individuals that slow down, taking the time to think and organize make fewer unforced errors.
Planning and attention to details, understanding everything that needs to be done, beforehand, reduces the chance for unforced errors.
The quest for speed in execution is not inconsistent with this theme, but speed is useless—damaging—unless it is part of a well developed and sharply executed plan. We produce too many unforced errors focusing on speed as the end, not a means.
“Busyness,” high activity levels, and multitasking increase the likelihood that we will make unforced errors.
Wimbledon is on now, the Olympics are coming up. Whatever your sport of choice–look at the world class performers in the sport. Look at their forced and unforced errors. Look at how they plan, focus, and execute. Look at how teams work together a one. Look at the speed at which they execute well thought out plans and strategies–maximizing their advantage and minimizing the unforced errors.
Take these lessons into your lives and businesses to improve everything you do.

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