Top critical review
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In Praise of Pursuing Perfection!
on 1 July 2004
Seldom has a book fallen so far short of the philosophy it espouses. Save your time and your money by reading another book on coaching.
"C.O.A.C.H." is the acronym that encompasses this book's brief content (probably less than 15,000 words):
C is for conviction ("Have a common vision and everyone will begin to move in the same direction." "Beliefs come true." " . . . a good coach provides the direction and concentration for performers' energies . . . ." "If you don't seek perfection, you can never reach excellence." "Lacking something to uplift their hearts when difficulties arise, their minds will not be equal to the task.")
O is for overlearning (" . . . get overprepared and help your people do the same." "Perfection happens only when the mechanics are automatic." "People generally respond well to leaders who have high expectations and genuine confidence in them.").
A is for audible-ready ("Prepare well with a plan -- then expect the unexpected and be ready to change that plan." "Audibles are . . . strategies your team knows about and has practiced thoroughly . . . .").
C is for consistency ("Respond predictably to performance." " . . . use redirect and praising more." "Mistakes cannot be tolerated.").
H is for honesty ("unquestionable integrity" "genuine and sincere" "Never ask your people to do more than you are willing to do." " . . . genuine faith [in God] is eminently practical.").
As a summary: "Who believed in you?" "How do you create that spark of self-recognition in others?" "It's about your believing in someone." "And then doing whatever it takes to help that person to his or her very best.")
The book itself offers little more than aphorisms. There are a few football examples. There are even fewer business examples. Examples from other contexts are almost nonexistent. This book would have been better with exercises for readers, questions to answer, and more relevant examples.
Personally, I disagree with the point that perfection should be the vision. Perfection could be a useful goal for an empowering vision, such as the one that the Salvation Army has.
The main benefit I got from the book was thinking through the way that companies fail to prepare for predictable alterations in circumstances, in the way that football teams do with audibles. Using scenarios to think through the future is relatively new to all but a few organizations. Clearly, this major lack will continue to harm organizations in the increasingly volatile social and economic climate of today.
If you have read The One Minute Manager and have seen and heard a top coach in action, you can skip this book.
Provide an example that others can easily understand and follow!