In sport, it is quite fascinating to see how a top tennis player can react to a ball traveling at 190 miles per hour.
From an arm chair watching as a youth I have listened to commentators who could articulate how they did it and I recall once hearing that the player can actually slow down time.
But it was not until I went out on the court and began to emulate the masters did I leaned the skill of anticipation and practice.
But the real paradigm shift in my ability to play better only came when I got a coach who could objectively gather and analysis about information my performance and feed it back. To do that, he did not concentrate on my ability to return fast shots, but on my consistency to anticipated and be in good position. With good data such as how many good returns and unforced errors I made in both and absolute and percentage terms plus my coaches interpretation, I was able to concentrate on improving my anticipation and I began to make less errors. I found too I could then also slow down time.
On a different level to stay in control in my early days as a so called cost accountant and a budding coach, an imperative was knowing unit costs of products and the stage cost of projects, That meant we could take care of the detail. But even more vital was knowing the variant mix in the total business to see where to concentrate. Hence I would spend a large amount of time in the factory and production shops observing and to understand the business flow and the pulse of the process.
I could them look at the summary data that often just confirmed the story I already knew to I could communicate it too others. It also let me see the detail for its worth on the low end to help fix the things inhibiting good results and on the high end to help lift the overall bar,
Observing also allowed me to see the reality behind the numbers I counted and to sort out the right ones to watch. My feedback to the business managers then had much more objectively as I could analyze and model all the information and make recommendations to improve the process and the overall business performance.
The more I did this the faster I got at anticipating. I also became impatient to get the information quicker as I learned my craft to coach to get better results. Like my tennis masters, I found cutting reaction time to make decisions was the key to winning the game.
These days as a head coach, like most of my peers I can manage a much wider portfolio that was not even possible then. And these days, with a wide span of cover, I can no longer manage by walking around as much as I liked to before.
But with now faster and brilliant visual information systems giving us feedback the span of control of the coach is now so much wider and even unlimited for those who are masters at it.
But in fact every manager can do with ease with what are a now quite pervasive enterprise tools; We call them business Intelligence tools and for very good reason as they allow us to access information to make more intelligent and timely decisions. These who embrace them and learn how to use them really do become masters. Are you one of them?