About Average

It’s my contention that average people in a great system will outperform great people in an average system. Which begs the obvious question: so what’s average? Like all the children in Lake Wobegon, we all tend to see ourselves as above average. One study after another (drivers are especially prone to being kind to themselves) points to a flaw in human nature that we all have too high an opinion of our capabilities. Self-esteem is a good thing, but can-do doesn’t translate into can’t-fail.

Perhaps it’s easier to describe what isn’t average. The rock star gets it faster, has deeper understanding, and makes things happen far faster than the rest of us. The laggard never gets it, and can’t seem to find his way back from lunch. The rest of us are the average.

The average person is intelligent, though not always educated. Using Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, they are self-motivated to work at something for a period of time and they get good at it. With good feedback and support, they can master their trade on an accelerated schedule. They take pride and ownership in their work. And they want to make a difference, some on a grander scale than others, but each wants to know that his efforts result in something good, personally and professionally.

My point is that the vast majority of people in organizations have what it takes to be successful, individually and collectively. Given that we have the ingredients for success, what can we do to make them into a winning team?

More to follow.