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Motivation through Scorekeeping
A Coach’s Most Important Job
Scores of Doughnuts
No Way to Win, No Reason to Change

Change Management
Motivation through Scorekeeping

Chuck Coonradt – CEO, The Game of Work

Unless people believe that winning is possible, resistance to change is inevitable. So one of the first questions to answer in advance of a proposed change is, “Can people be shown how they will win after making this change?”. When the egocentric approach to change is coupled with the natural desire to win and appropriate scorekeeping, buy-in and cooperative support for the change can result.

Most people don’t know how to win today, since in their current work environments they don’t understand the business goals as they relate to their job, and have no idea at the end of the day, week or month whether they’ve made a positive contribution or not. They exist in an environment that allows no possibility of improved performance in the here and now since there’s no immediate feedback.

People will gladly exit this situation, but only when they believe that things will be better, and can see that the new situation provides them with an opportunity to win, a chance to make a difference, and an understanding of the rules. If there is a strategy that helps people see themselves as winners after the change, they will drop their resistance and help make the change happen.

Scorekeeping is that strategy.

Effective scorekeeping provides a system of tracking and feedback so that everyone personally knows how to win. This system also enables everyone from the CEO to the front-line team member to evaluate exactly where they are at any point along the way.

Scorekeeping is based on the following five principles of recreational sports.

  1. Clear Goals — Scoring the most points, beating your previous time, lifting more weight, or running farther than before – it’s easy to measure today’s performance against yesterday’s, last week’s or last month’s.

  2. Clear Scorekeeping — There is no doubt about how to keep score. Scorekeeping is objective, self-administered, peer-audited, and coach-promoted. Everyone understands the score and what constitutes winning (and losing). Scorekeeping is NOT measurement.

  3. Frequent Feedback — The score is public, visible, always known, and shown on the board immediately. This allows time for improvement during the “game” and meaningful coaching, rather than withholding feedback until the end (when it’s too late to improve and change the outcome).

  4. Choice — There are options to leverage personal strengths in an empowered way. Rather than being micromanaged in “how” to do something, there is simply a “get it done” message, which supports a greater degree of autonomy and personal satisfaction.

  5. Rules are Consistent — Rules don’t change in the middle of the game. Consistency supports certainty, and increases the confidence of the people involved. When coaches (managers) and players (workers) all understand the rules, a higher level of cooperation and teamwork naturally ensues.
When a scorekeeping system is based on these principles, everyone clearly knows when they’re winning, and when they’re not. People will motivate themselves to take the actions necessary to win. No one enjoys losing, especially when winning is clearly possible.

By creating a future environment where people understand what’s expected and have a method of scoring, tracking and winning, change reaction management becomes easy, and resistance management almost unnecessary. People will gladly help the organization move away from a situation where the rules are unknown and there is no chance for them to win if a “winnable” environment is possible.

If the current process is an environment where winning isn’t possible and the rules are unknown, a scorekeeping strategy can show people how they can be successful in the future. People will not only buy into the proposed change, but they’ll become part of the proactive change effort.

Keys to Scorekeeping

To establish a scorekeeping system, there are some key concepts to keep in mind:

Quick to Do Scorekeeping effort must be limited to less
than 15 minutes effort per day.
Positive Measure and track the behavior you want
repeated, not the behavior you want stopped.
Coach and
Scorekeeping allows the coach and player to
agree on when, what type, and how much
feedback is appropriate.
Maximize the
Scorecards are based on and judged by the
players themselves, winning against themselves.
Ownership Explain the why, let the individuals design the
metrics and scorecards; Empower the people.
Simplicity Scorekeeping should be limited to less than 5
areas per person, and explainable to a 3rd grader.
Frequent Increase the frequency of measurement until
meaningful. Annually is useless, daily at least.

Scorekeeping: A Critical Component of a Change Strategy

Designing a scorekeeping system isn’t easy, and there are many factors to consider. What to measure, how to measure, how to report and how often – all of these need to be taken into account. The coach-player relationship has to be defined, and an agreement made regarding the minimal, standard and high-performance ranges for each scorekeeping area. Ground rules must be established, as well as a common understanding and agreement to the goals.

When a proposed change can be more quickly implemented without resistance, and in fact, with full support of the people impacted, the effort of a scorekeeping strategy is easily justified. After all, the original purpose and driving force of the change was to improve business performance. A rapid, smooth implementation of a proposed change will decrease the time-to-payback and greatly increase the return-on-investment.

Scorekeeping – perhaps there is a Holy Grail for motivating change.

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