Surefire Way to Improve Anything You Do in 4 Easy Steps

4-steps-to-improvementMy son has played baseball most of his life. Mostly shortstop, pitcher, and left field. As a coach, one of the things you are aiming for with your players is development. Better stated, you want a path of constant improvement. Self-improvement.

As you’ll see below, this came to a head after he had a poor outing.

For those in business, don’t we all want to improve? It’s not healthy to be obsessed with self-improvement, but at a minimum we want to be better today than we were yesterday, right?

What was shared with the players while coaching applies to adults and professionals. Good news, 3/4 of these steps are very much in your control.

Surefire Way for Improving Anything You Do in 4 Easy Steps

Driving home from another baseball game, he was in the back of our van upset.

My son doesn’t get upset that often, he’s very mild mannered, excitable as most teens are, and generally soft spoken. This time his competitive fire ignited him.

He was pitching in a game, and didn’t have the outing he had hoped. The result? Anger that they lost. As we travelled down the road, I tried to give him space to vent, asking him questions. Listening.

The following morning, after he’d calmed down, I brought up his reaction from the evening prior. I reviewed these four steps that his head coach had reviewed with him previously, and I want to review with you now.

PEOR, Preparation, Execution, Outcome, and Response.

This approach to improvement is one I’ve embraced in business for a while. I’m always listening for simpler ways to clarify concepts, and this has become a favorite.

Step 1 – Preparation

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After a task or project you’d like to learn from, ask:

“How well did I prepare?”

If you lead a team, ask yourself, “how well the team was prepared?”

  • Did you invest the time leading up to the event in the right things?
  • What caught you by surprise?
  • If you had to do it over again, what things would you set aside, and what things would you lean into?

In business, for a project you might consider other questions, like:

  • Was there buy in from the right people?
  • Were adequate resources allocated to the effort?
  • Were the right players in place at the right positions?

For my son, in that particular game, he ran out of gas earlier than he should have pitching.

When asking him how his preparation may have affected his performance, he mentioned that he didn’t do any cardio (running) outside of practice for some time (ehem, Dad already knew that).

This was a key insight, because he previously had experienced the benefits of cardio prep. In games he found he could throw longer and with intensity, it was when he’d done cardio outside of practice.

Step 2 – Execution

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You’ll hear this on postgame player interviews on ESPN or your favorite sports channel, “We were able to execute and won the game.” or the opposite, “We just didn’t execute, and they did.”

This step is built on preparation.

In his case he executed well early in the game, hitting his spots (accuracy), with good velocity, and mixing up his pitch types. However, he got tired early, and his accuracy and speed suffered.

In business we can ask:

Did we execute as planned? If not, why?

Reasons execution can be off the mark:

  • Environment – weather, or other ‘day of’ dynamics.
  • Health – someone is unable to bring their ‘A’ game, or is not present at all.

Step 3 – Outcome

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So the For my son, later in the game when he experienced fatigue, some batters were walked, and some caught up to his pitches with hits.

In business it may be:

  • The response to the offer was better/worse than we’d hoped.
  • We got more/less traffic as a result.
  • Sales tripled over the same period last year.

Important point: When my son releases the ball, everything up to that point is very much in his control. He can choose how much he prepared, he’s in control while executing, but when he releases the ball, he’s got zero say in the outcome.

The most critical part of the game, in that moment, he’s got no control.

It’s the same in business. You control of everything except the outcome. In that moment, it’s up to the market, competitors, prospects, and customers to respond.

And the last step, you also have control over.

Step 4 – Response

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His reaction on the way home from the losing effort was just that, a reaction. You too may be disappointed in some result you have in business, especially if there was a lot of work leading up to it.

Failing isn’t bad, it’s simply a test result. Failing to learn from failure, is the ultimate failure.

Your response, however, is key. After the dust settles, it’s time to evaluate, learn, regroup, refine, and sometimes restart or re-launch.

Response, done properly, serves to refresh and recharge preparation. This is where improvement is realized.

Back at It

You’ll be happy to know that my son started running again, in his next outing he did better, won again, and grew as a young man.

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We may not be on a baseball field with gloves and spikes, but we all can use these four steps to improve and get better results with each experience in business and life.

The more times you exercised this process, the more you believe in it, and the quicker you go from Outcome to Response due to the improved results you experience over time.

Warning: This is a process. It takes time and hard work, but it is worth it. Be patient with yourself and your team along the way. Improved results will follow.

Ask Yourself:

  • In my last project, how did preparation impact the outcome?
  • How could it have been better? What can I do to improve next time?
  • How can the PEOR model help me in an upcoming project I have?
  • How can I share the PEOR model with my team to inspire and elevate?

*Image credit: thingsweforget

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