Performance Experiments

Ralph and Bill discuss a new activity to incorporate in your leadership: 6 weeks of short, asynchronous content focused on insights and behavior change. The concept is similar to the “42-day challenges” popular at fitness centers. When backed by accountability and support, these performance experiments can motivate learning and growth, and help you achieve your goals. What experiments can you try within your organization?

Bill Berthel: Welcome to the get emergent podcast. This is a podcast about leadership teams and organizational performance. At emergent. We are committed to transforming leaders, teams, and organizations to perform at their highest potential I’m Bill Berthel

Ralph Simone: and I’m Ralph Simone.

Bill Berthel: Ralph today’s topic is about the performance experiment, which is, an offering we provide organizations and teams. Tell our listeners more about this Performance Experiment.

Ralph Simone: First, I wanna focus on the second word, experiment. I love the word experiment and I love it because it helps me and others get into action. It actually prevents overthinking or being stuck because you know, the beauty of an experiment is that we don’t necessarily know how it’s gonna turn.

Mm. And I think it helps us kind of get into this uninhibited action quicker. It’s actually something I, that I did with my kids when they were younger and when something was challenging and I would say, well, you know, let’s, let’s try and experiment. What experiment could we run to maybe take this on? And it seemed like in almost all instances, it got them moving in action in a positive.

Bill Berthel: Yeah, I love it. There’s something about experimentation that gives us permission to perform a little bit differently and be okay if it doesn’t quite work out.

Ralph Simone: Absolutely. It gives us permission to learn faster or fail faster, whatever language works best for us. It really feeds the growth mindset, which we are.

Big proponents of that, no matter what happens, we are gonna learn and grow from it. And it actually has its roots in a lot of the 42-day challenges. In fact, that was the original name for it that you often see in gyms, right in, uh, gyms and personal training facilities. They have these 42-day challenges, right.

They focus on six weeks. On an area that you wanna improve and there’s massive action and there’s support and there’s accountability and there’s

Bill Berthel: progress. That’s awesome. So it might be six weeks of a specific performance feature of my physical ability from that’s what’s the inspiration from these gym bootcamp type things.

How does that translate into, you know, the organizational team space?

Ralph Simone: Well, we think that people and teams are corporate athletes. So we think we can draw that parallel. But the other thing that, that I think is really, we think this is even better because it there’s an asynchronous nature to it. We’re taking on bite-size learning, asking for intentions and commitments, and then giving people an opportunity to not only reflect on.

Their progress, but to report and share what they’re learning with others, right? So you, you know, like in the gym you have a support network of people. You go through the bootcamp, we have that for the performance experiment, and it’s not a huge time commitment because we hear that people are oversubscribed.

So it’s really short, maybe 30 minutes of commitment over a week’s period that focuses on them being exposed to some content setting in attention, something that they wanna change, paying attention to their motivation or barriers to making that change, and then sharing their successes in learning with other people.

So it really pulls all of the aspects of change and of what the boot camps do almost in a virtual community.

Bill Berthel: So there’s a group component that creates this social connection in a team. There’s some individual contribution through. I’m going to get a piece of content early in the week. I’m gonna listen to that or read that, and then I’m gonna make an in intent.

Like what, what kind of intention am I gonna make in a week?

Ralph Simone: Well, so for example, I was thinking about this, you know, my intention this week is to just eat better, you know, and this is that part of a performance experiment. Yeah. But it’s part of my own performance experiments. And so, you know, I wanna be more intentional and intentional about what I am eating.

Not only the types of food, but also the quantities of food that I’m eating. And then, you know, I would be reminded on Wednesday as part of the performance experiment. How is it going? Right. I would get a motivational quote followed by a journaling practice, you know, and in other podcasts, we’ve talked about habits of thought drive patterns of behavior.

So what thinking is driving the current way I eat, I wanna counterbalance that with an intention to eat well, to eat better, to. Smaller portion. So that would be an example of an intention. And then, you know, you, you get these reminders and then at the end of the week, and this is part of what we do in our coaching practice, we wanna have the, create this opportunity and community to share your successes with other people so that they can benefit from what you did were also.

Feel a little vulnerable and share some things you’re still challenged with and get some feedback. So there’s a learning community, a portal that allows us to interact with one another throughout the 42-day challenge.

Bill Berthel: Lovely. Yeah. So, so early in the week I set that intention. So I’m focused on what I’m experimenting with midweek.

I get this nice reminder. I get the check-in. The end of the week is an important reflection and support with my group, my cohort group, and my team. All done on an electronic platform so we can interact with one another, support one another, get the content.

Ralph Simone: Absolutely asynchronous, virtual supportive. And there is also a twice throughout the six weeks.

We bring the group together in a group learning webinar to share successes, to ask questions, to put challenges in front of the group, kind of a mastermind group concept to get other perspectives. And to be there to provide support and accountability for one another. And one thing I like about it is, you know, the more we are aware, the easier it is for us to make a conscious choice.

And so the content, which as we said is asynchronous kind of hopefully creates a key learning or a takeaway which leads to an intention. Then the journaling helps us pay attention or become more self-aware of what we want to change. And then we celebrate our successes with other people and ask some questions so that we can even improve and get better.

It’s just a, a great way of. Focused because it’s short, it’s repetitive and there’s elements of support and accountability. I think it just, this really powerful way. To hit a lot of people in an organization, particularly around something that the organization wants to see shift, for example, being better team players.

Mm-hmm right. If we, if we want to inculcate that into an organization, what better way to do that? Then through multiple performance experiments.

Bill Berthel: This is really based on research, on how adults learn, grow, and develop best. And when we have a choice in what we’re going to focus on, that’s the intention setting early in the week.

Our content is, is, is pretty rich. I mean, listening to a podcast or, uh, reading a piece of material from us, there are lots of things you could choose from in there getting to choose your intention early in that week. Quick buy-in, right? Yeah. Quick buy-in for the individual to say, I, I wanna focus on this.

Like your personal example, wanting to eat a little bit better, but it might be about communicating better in a team. It might be about being, uh, more influential in some of your conversations. It might be a more inspirational leadership, whatever that is, you get to really choose from that content and focus on it.

During that week. We also know that adults learn and grow and develop best when there’s a social C. This is built with that platform of you got a cohort group you’ve got support from others. Yeah. You’re kind of putting it out there saying, Hey, I’m working on this thing. How can you catch me doing it well and, and support me in it?


Ralph Simone: And it’s manageable. I think you talked about that, right? It’s empowering because of the choice. And we, we know that success is the product of daily habits. And so what we’re trying to do is break it down. Um, you know, a lot of the literature. 30 days to begin to develop a habit 42 to 64 to start to lock it in right.

200 to really own it. So we’re chunking this thing down, getting people into action in experimenting with new behaviors, always with this focus on learning and growing.

Bill Berthel: Making those sticky habits. That’s why it’s going past the 30 days, right? Starting that lock, starting that lock-in. So there’s sustainable performance from these experiments, right?

What successes you have, keep pulling them into your work.

Ralph Simone: But I think the idea of short sound bites gives you learning, which leads to an insight, which leads you to an intention, which leads you to something that you wanna pay attention to, which leads to. Sort of success because you know, in the growth mindset, there is no losing.

You either win or learn something and you learn something that you can then apply to the next week or the next set of 42 days in the performance experiment. But we’re having some, you know, Some great success with it because it’s a way to get people into action quickly.

Bill Berthel: So we’ve had the pleasure of, uh, running this program, this performance experiment with many groups, many teams, many clients.

What kind of impact are you most proud of Ralph that we’re seeing with some of our clients?

Ralph Simone: I’m actually shocked that I have heard multiple times. Regarding multiple people that the performance experiment has been transformational. That just blows me away. But then it shouldn’t because if you can get people to believe, if you can get ’em to take that first step, if you can get them to reflect, and if you can create some support, why couldn’t it in fact be transformational?

I mean, I mean, just, I was blown away by that first time. Uh, one of our clients said it, I was, I was shocked. But this idea of, uh, you know, this is why we’re in the business. We’re in, we’re, we’re, we’re asking people to look at what’s working and perhaps not working as well for them to be willing to try something different, which is really the essence of an experiment in the more we’re willing to experiment the higher we will perform thus the performance experiment.

And we, you know, I think the real challenge for us is to kind of stay ahead of what are the topics that people would be most interested in experimenting with. And I think that’s kind of the exciting part for us. Just like what’s next, you know, we’ve talked about team play and, and leading and conversations and being inspirational.

What would be some other, in fact, we’d love to hear from our listeners. What would be some other experiments?

Bill Berthel: Yeah. Let’s hear those topics that would be interesting to you or what’s needed in your organizations or your teams. Right.

Ralph Simone: You need to ask better questions. What experiments would you be willing to really engage in?

I think we would have a great list of things to work on.

Bill Berthel: Yeah, I’ve heard similar testimony from many people, uh, have gone through a performance experiment and some of them even speak to how this has kind of leaked over into their personal lives that they’re looking at changing, like your example. It might be, uh, eating habits or exercising habits, or even how they’re experimenting differently with their relationships or their parenting.

Right. And so much of our work has that beautiful, both/and of the professional and personal impact that you enjoy as well.

Ralph Simone: I’m kinda laughing because I remember being kind of thrown off by a question a few weeks ago by a client who wanted some, you know, parenting advice. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. And I said, well, you know, how about if we run an experiment?

Yeah. He goes, what do you mean? I said, well, so there’s a, you have an intention. His attention was modeling different behavior for his young children. Right. And so then what do you need to pay attention to? Right. So he had, he said, I gotta pay attention to my behavior, my language. He said, beautiful. then let’s midweek.

How are you doing? What are you learning? What success have you had? And it just it’s, it’s almost like breaking it down. Sometimes we make things way, way too big. And I think what the performance experiment does is it focuses on something for a particular period in time and provides the mechanism for that stickiness to occur.

So we’re excited. We’d love to get more performance experiments out there with our clients, as it relates to the leadership team and organizational effectiveness.

Bill Berthel: So one call to action. I heard is, uh, I think you could leave a comment. You could reach out to Let us know what kind of performance experiments, what topics you might want to run in your organization.

Ralph Simone: Absolutely. I mean that we’d love to hear, and if we don’t have the content already, we’ll go out and create the content. We’ll do the research and we’ll, we’ll make it easy for you to make the change.

Bill Berthel: That’s never a problem. We enjoy doing that. We, enjoy that space quite a bit. So you’re reminding me of the old African proverb of, you know, how do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time. There you go. one bite at a time, right?

Ralph Simone: I think that encapsulates the performance experiment.

Bill Berthel: Beautiful. Hey folks, and be sure to join us, uh, here every other week for the get emergent podcast where you’ll learn about strategies and ideas, just like the Performance Experiment on how to increase your leadership and team effectiveness.

Thank you.

Note: The preceding text is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors

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