Ask John Boyd. It was the early 50s, in the midst of the Korean War, John “40 second Boyd” arrived on the scene as an F-86 pilot. John Boyd was given this nickname because he was able to defeat any opposing pilot in an aerial dogfight in less than 40 seconds. At face value, one would attribute his success to excellent piloting skills. However, his favorite fighter jet was the F-16. In layman’s terms, the F-16 is a modest machine compared to other fighter jets such as the F-15. Specifically comparing it to the F-15, the F-16 lagged. You would think that John Boyd would be more successful utilizing a giant, faster fighter jet. This was not the case. The F-16 had a few intangibles that were not readily apparent to your average pilot. The F-16 was able to make sharp maneuvers, and the cockpit had greater levels of visibility. The pilot was able to see what was going on around him more so than in an F-15. John Boyd credited his success in dogfights not to speed but to the ability to maneuver with greater visibility.
The pleasant secret of sales analytics
I’m sure a day doesn’t go by in your current organization that somebody isn’t talking about instituting sales analytics. Far be it from me to discourage you and your organization from doing so; however, I would strongly suggest that you look towards analytics for the value it brings. It provides visibility and insight into your talent that the naked eye is not capable of noticing. John Boyd’s approach to aerial dogfighting led him to conceive a decision-making process called the OODA loop. It’s an acronym that stands for Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action. I don’t want to make this blog post about this decision-making process; however, I will point out that this decision-making process starts with observation:
The ability to have visibility and insight before you can orient yourself to where you are; make a decision and the associated action to follow. This is a perfect metaphor for sales analytics. Gain the insight and visibility you need to orient yourself and to be able to make good talent decisions and act.
Do I have to talk to this jerk more often?
I had the privilege to talk to a customer the other day about their pending sales performance management implementation. They had heard a lot about ratingless systems and continuous feedback processes. They felt that implementing these two trends might solve many of their issues. At face value, I would agree that some change may have helped their situation; however, not until we had greater levels of insight in detail were we able to verify whether or not the strategy would be helpful to their cause. After further examination, continuous feedback would have been detrimental as it would create more significant conflict and escalation. Many of the managers in this particular organization were not equipped to be managers. They had conversations with their employees on a monthly (or less) basis. Introducing more exchanges between the employee and the ill-equipped manager would increase frustration. I can imagine the internal dialogue in one’s mind, “I have to talk to this jerk more often now?”
Solving the right problem
Having robust sales analytics would not only give you the associated reporting required to run your business, but it would also uncover some of these latent issues that are not apparent to the naked eye. Once they can be uncovered, you can then create the associated solution. This would lead to greater levels of prediction and prescription in your talent management strategy. To finish my recent story about the customer, the issue was not continuous feedback but to create a more rigorous vetting process for their managers and institute strong leadership training. That’s not to say that somewhere along the line, they could Institute continuous feedback, but it was the wrong solution for this particular problem. Are there other latent issues that you might be missing in your talent management strategy? Do you have the proper visibility to uncover these latent issues? I’d like to hear from you.