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I've found this piece really difficult to write. I've deleted it numerous times for fear of getting myself in trouble.

I'm scared so I'm going to speak metaphorically to cover my arse but I feel like I have to speak my mind on this. To not say this would be an ethical kop-out on my part.


Let's take an imaginary person, Mr X, who is employed to help a client, Mrs Y, get better at what she does.

Mr X, an expert in his field, analyses where Mrs Y's performance can be better and puts a suggested programme in place to aid development. Mrs Y invests a lot and works hard. She attains some degree of success based on Mr X's programme. In this case, all is pretty good.

What I've been watching lately is slightly different. Mr X, with his expert knowledge, convinces Mrs Y that her performance is best served by forgetting about her main performance objectives and focusing on parts of it. He shifts the goalposts a little to make progress more measurable in the presence of complex performance objectives. Mrs Y trusts Mr X's expert knowledge and grafts through her programme to improve. She improves at all parts of her programme and rightly feels a great sense of pride in herself.

But here's the thing...

Her performance in her initial task got no better.

The parts have not helped the whole.

Mr X has abused his position of power by selling Mrs Y on a programme that was never really going to help. By shifting the goalposts and redefining what success was has tricked Mrs Y into thinking she has succeeded.

He has also covered his own arse in the process. If Mrs Y didn't improve her overall performance, it ain't his fault. Look at the improvements his programme helped deliver.


This article could be extended into a book I have that much to say on the matter but for now, just think about what I'm saying.


I have been sold on training methods that out of context generate progress but give nothing in context.

You may have been too.

I see this happening even at the top level in sports and many other fields.

While it can be a complex matter to get to the bottom of, if there is one tip I can offer to you to protect yourself against investing in ineffective performance improvement methods it would be to keep focused on your bottom line, which is what exactly you want to improve.

To a great extent, it doesn't matter what the experts or their numbers say if what you want to improve isn't benefiting just like it wouldn't matter how high quality the ingredients of a cake were proven to be if it tasted like shit.

Remembering where YOUR goalposts are is the best simple way to cover your arse and push on forward.


Arton "Bottom line" Baleci