Insights from the author
Most business professionals have goals. Many of these goals are quite tangible, but others may be difficult to measure. More than likely, many of your goals have been set by others, including some things that are out of your control, which may feel overwhelming - especially at the start of trying to accomplish them. Many teams keep a dashboard showing the gap between where they currently are and their goal target. While this type of gap visualization is interesting, it almost always fails to tell the story of why the gap exists. One area that we consistently find missing in the analysis is the contribution of the personal readiness of the team members and the team readiness in the capability to deliver on these targets.
Gap analysis is a tool that we have used extensively in the sport and expedition arena that helps us to succeed at our goals. Often, in this context, data is used to challenge an individual’s intuition and expectations, so you make more logical decisions vs. emotional decisions. It is about fact vs. fiction. An example is support for the performance of a pair of cyclists racing together in the Ride Across America Race. In this instance, the end goal is clear - the cyclists needed to hit an average daily speed of more than 19.90 mph (32.03 kph) to set a new world record.
With this clear goal, tests were run to assess the riders’ power output and fatigue points to identify their ability to hold this pace for the duration required. The route was studied to identify challenges such as temperature, weather systems, and terrain that would affect their ability to meet their goal.
With all those data points, the team had a clear awareness of where the riders were in relation to where they needed to be, so a plan of how to close the gap and optimize their odds of success could be put in place.
In the expedition and sporting context, gap analysis is quite simple to apply because of the focus on the human’s ability to perform and the support team put in place to support their performance. This includes the real-time tracking of fatigue and the ability to address the real-time needs of the athlete. That is rarely the case for TIGNUM clients, but many of the same principles still apply.
Instead of assessing success on a defined work end goal that can be influenced by others and ever-changing, look at how you can set yourself up for success to thrive in an area you may currently find difficult. For example, in your ToBeVision, you may identify that being at your best is being a team player, supporting and coaching others to achieve, and not micromanaging. However, on days of high stress and pressure, you struggle to create the mental space and agility for this and revert to jumping in the weeds because it’s ‘easier’ or ‘quicker’ just to do it yourself. So the gap analysis here is identifying the steps it will take to practice and expose you to developing these skills in various situations, under increasing degrees of pressure, stress, and fatigue. Using the awareness of understanding where you are now, compared to where you need to be successful, means you must address the mindset and recovery of the humans performing, or they will fail.
How could you implement your own gap analysis?
The next time you’re on a journey to achieve something significant, remember to mind your gaps. Even more important, coming from a team that has supported many teams to achieve the impossible, don’t overlook the human performance support required to do big things.
As always, we would love to hear what you think.