Monday, September 02, 2013

Learning and a high performing culture

george dom
I was listening recently to George Dom, on one of the many excellent Human Business Way podcasts by Chris Brogan. George is a former naval officer and aviator and held key leadership positions in high performance organisations. He was also an instructor/pilot at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (Topgun) and commanding officer/flight leader of the Blue Angels.

In the interview George made a number of points about learning and performance which are worth sharing and which those of us involved in corporate training can learn from.

1. Perfect Practice

His first point was that practice does not make perfect. Practice creates consistency and therefore to become perfect you need to practice perfectly i.e. to be the best you can be every time you practice. Through perfect practice you create neural pathways that become hard wired.

George’s approach in leading highly professional teams of pilots was ‘we practice until we get it right and then keep practicing until we can't get it wrong’.

2. Constructive Feedback For Constant Improvement

To create a high performing organisation George believes you need to create a culture of constant feedback. George’s teams held a debriefing after every single mission. They might fly for 40 minutes but then spend 2 hours reviewing what happened and what they could do better next time.

A key part of this culture was that pilots had to be open to constant feedback and accept professional criticism every day. This is very powerful as striving every day to get a little bit better drives performance improvement.

3. Performance Matters

The culture George established was highly professional and demanded high standards. It focused on and rewarded performance not effort. Ultimately performance was what mattered.

4. Create A Culture Of Trust

In George’s view high performing organisations have a culture of unconditional trust. George put it very nicely when he said ‘We swim in a sea of trust, when trust is high and the water is clear then life is easy.’

For George trust in an organisation is essential, it is ‘the core value you recruit for, train for, promote and reward.’

There is a huge amount of insightful thinking on learning and performance in the Human Business Way podcasts, in fact I may need to write a series of articles on what I have learnt from Chris Brogan. Listen for yourself at the Human Business Way.