“An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgments simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore.”— Edward de Bono

We had a wonderful weather weekend which led to some extensive yard work. My back let me know that I had overdone things and I found myself hobbling around the house a few hours later. Luckily, I have an expert massage therapist in my family and I immediately scheduled a session.

During the massage, I realized how much I have improved after receiving the massage. My massage therapist was key to this improvement. She gave me good advice on how to work with her so that she is better able to target her interventions so I am able to get the benefits I’m looking for.

I realized these lessons are the same ones my best clients have learned.

The following are the key steps in boosting your “improvement intake engine”.

Take clear notice when something isn’t working. My back pain was obvious and I have learned to take it seriously. However, some of my clients were accustomed to ignoring early symptoms and waiting to ask for help until larger problems developed.

Be aware that the symptoms are not the root causes. In becoming great at receiving massages, I have learned to start by being clear about the symptoms. I have also come to understand that addressing the symptoms is not the same as addressing the root cause. My back pain was made much better by work that integrated the whole body, not just the back. Problem symptoms in complex projects require a similar systemic approach.

Invest in experts who can help address underlying causes. I no longer think about a massage as a frivolous expense. It is an investment which results in more flexibility, more energy, and generally more fun in life. Why struggle to solve problems alone when there are experts who can get you to your desired state much more quickly?

Invest in experts who will help even more with prevention. As I listened to my massage therapist, it became clear that the real root cause of my back pain was not doing too much yard work, it was doing yard work with bad body mechanics. Experts can help you understand your system in new ways and that understanding will help prevent future problems.

The most advanced level of getting expert advice is seeking performance upgrades. Many of my clients have started at the “back pain” level of problem. However, after working all the way through prevention, my best clients work with me on performance upgrades for themselves and their organizations.

How well versed is your organization in using experts to improve your engines of performance?

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,


Alan Willett

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