CorporateCoach eNewsletter

Issue No. 57, 3rd May 2004


  1. Editorial: Watch out for what you measure
  2. Coaching notes: The Accelerated Trainer, Lex McKee

ARE YOU A CONSULTANT, COACH OR TRAINER IN THE UK? If you would like to learn how to build your business, check out our workshops "Build a successful business consultancy practice" on 10-11 May and 21 June.

1.     Editorial: Watch out for what you measure

Richard Winfield - editor and principal consultantWe have long known that what gets measured gets done. Unfortunately, under the law of unintended consequences, measurement can also get other things done. In particular, bonus systems can distort performance over time, especially if circumstances and priorities change.

I have recently read of an extreme and serious example. Fortune Magazine recently reported a special investigation entitled "Why we are losing the war on cancer (and how to win it)".

The basis of the report was that survival rates from cancer have not significantly changed over the last fifty years. Why is this?

In 1971, when the war on cancer began, 50% of people diagnosed with the disease went to on to live at least five years. Today, 33 years and some $200 billion later, the five year rate of survival rate is 63%, a modest 13 point gain. Nearly all this gain is as a result of better and earlier detection. Once cancer has spread, however, chances of survival are scarely better now than they were three decades ago.

The essence of their argument is that we measure the wrong things. Most research is done on animals, and in particular on the growth of cancer cells. Growth rates are easy to measure, and it is easy to get research grants on this basis. Clinical trials depend on measuring the effect of drugs on cancerous cells and the pharmaceutical industry has grown big on the development of drugs that will slow growth.

But what is the real benefit of extending life from four weeks to six weeks? It is a 50% improvement - but what real value to the patient?

The real target should be in prevention; for two reasons. Quality of life is clearly much better if you never get cancer than if you survive it for longer. But, also significant is the nature of cancer.

The trouble with cancer is that malignant cells can break away from a tumour and settle in another part of the body. This is known as metastasis. By the time tumours are readily detectable the cancer might be all over the body. It is then too late to treat.

According to Fortune, "It is not localised tumours that kill people with cancer; it is the process of metastasis – an incredible 90% of the time. Aggressive cells spread to the bones, liver, lungs, brain, or other vital areas, wreaking havoc."

The real progress has been made in cervical cancer and colon cancer, where screening programmes cause action to be taken before 'proper' cancer develops. But how do you measure the effectiveness of intervening before something actually happens? Affecting what might have been, rather than what is already identifiable.

So the satisfying measurability of laboratory experiments on animals and cell cultures, compatible with "good science" has led to a thirty year focus on the wrong target – one that is unlikely ever to maximise public health. Fighting cancer may raise cash, but preventing cancer, including treating 'healthy' people will save lives.

Surprisingly there is already a significant body of science that can detect likely pre-cancerous signals in the blood stream. Of course there is less money to be made from screening healthy people than treating sick ones – especially the terminally sick. And there is less juicy research in developing detection methods than in fighting an unwinnable war.

An extreme and worrying example, perhaps. But how possible is it that there are similar examples in your own organisation where traditional thinking and practice has continued long after it has ceased to be appropriate and where an alternative approach might be significantly more effective?

Beware habitual thinking and the attraction of clean statistics. Often some fuzzy lateral thinking can be a better approach. Listen to the dissenters and mavericks!


PRACTICE BUILDING WORKSHOPS: Are you earning enough yet?

A Straightforward Guide to a Stress Free Life Would you like to increase your earnings?

Of course you would. I know that many individual consultants, coaches and trainers are earning less than they should. Recent research in the USA and Europe suggests that in their first year 73% of coaches make less than $10,000 and that only 9% of all coaches are making more than $100,000 a year.

This is clearly unsatisfactory. So what stops talented people from achieving financial success? What strategies help other people succeed?

Brefi Group has modelled beliefs and practices that work and will deliver two workshops in central London to address this issue and help consultants, coaches and trainers to build more successful practices for themselves – faster.

Practice Building workshop, 10-11 May (£375 + VAT)

This two-day practical workshop is an opportunity for you to learn beliefs and practical strategies that work for us and to develop your own personal sales & marketing plan. You will have a chance to experience coaching from Brefi Group associates and find out about our associates scheme.

Lessons from CoachVille, 21 June (£175 + VAT)

This year's CoachVille conference, "The Coaching Business: Create Your Own Magic", is also dedicated to helping coaches expand their business and achieve financial success. Brefi Group is attending the conference and will present a follow-up, free standing event reporting all the best practice building tips collected over the four days of the workshops and conference in Orlando. Be sure to attend and get these hot tips only two weeks after the international conference.

Book for both workshops together and you will save £55! For full details click here.

2.    Book review: The Accelerated Trainer, Lex McKee

I have a soft spot for Lex McKee. I helped him commit to his professional name of Lex. Further, he is one of those people who, I believe, have the potential to become a global guru, a leader and authority in his field. Accelerated learning is a key and neglected discipline that should be obligatory for all trainers.

I only wish he had taken my advice and changed publisher from Gower. I believe that books should be read, not stuck on a library shelf. This important book is priced at £45. It is certainly worth £45 to any trainer. But such a price will, surely, damage sales. I fear that it will be bought by librarians and miss the real, core market of trainers. As a result its potential to change to world for the better will be reduced.

I hope readers of CorporateCoach will have the courage to fork out and read it.

"Learning is both easy and enjoyable, it is only undeveloped teaching styles that lead us to believe otherwise." So says Lex Mckee.

The Accelerated Trainer opens with this premise: both the learner and the trainer need to overcome their hang-ups and abandon any psychological baggage before they start. From there, the author goes on to cover the entire training process, from planning and preparation, through anticipation and delivery, to action-planning and follow-up.

Lex starts before a workshop, with a welcome strategy that continues into the design of the training room and the first four minutes of the workshop. He then tells how to prepare the minds of the delegates for learning. He covers the big picture, music, breaks and how to use them to enhance learning so that from the beginning the learners are stimulated through as many senses as possible, in as rich a style as possible.

Next, how to integrate the material by using the existing resources of our own intelligence to convert the learning into our own experience – making intelligence intelligible.

He reminds us that there are seven relevant intelligences: -

  • Mathematical/logical
  • Linguistic
  • Visual/spatial
  • Physical
  • Intrapersonal
  • Interpersonal
  • Musical

In the context of a training event the programme designer should sit down with this list and apply it to a sequence of activities that will move learners through the full complement of intelligences.

There are chapters on mind mapping, action activities and how to prepare and deliver a review concert (guided visualisation).

Finally, he talks about future pacing the application of the learning; what he calls 'memories of the future'.

A mark of a useful book is the amount of highlighting of the text. My copy of The Accelerated Trainer is brightly covered from the many places where I have highlighted good ideas or texts to return to. In addition to the main text, this book includes definitions of competencies in accelerated training and a useful list of resources and contacts.

When all is said and done, the cost of the book is irrelevant in comparison with its value if you ever do any teaching or training.


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We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:

Telephone: 08450 678 222, or +44 (0) 121 704 2006 (international)