The Game Is Won in the Fourth Quarter

I was visiting Geary Rummler back in 1999 to review my forthcoming book, lean-ISD, my first solo effort after 1994’s The Quality Roadmap, co-authored with my two business partners and our un-ghosted ghostwriter.

I had called Geary to let him know I was close to finishing the book and that I had attributed my approach to one of my 4 types of Instructional Analysis – Performance & Gaps – to the derivative of a derivative that I had been taught starting on my first day in my job back in 1979. I wanted to share that set of chapters with him, and if he wanted me to not credit him, I would remove that from my book Preface.

He told me to come visit with him, and so I flew from Chicago to Tucson to spend two days with him.

It was reminiscent of my days at Motorola back in 1981 and 1982 when I alone visited with him in his offices in Summit, New Jersey, working on various projects where he was my consultant – meaning I carried his pencils as we went from one of my clients to the next, all across North America.

The Numeral 4

There was this flip chart page on the wall of his office with the number 4 written by hand. The numeral 4 was approximately 3 feet tall.

By the end of Day 2, I couldn’t contain myself any longer, and I asked him about the significance of that.

He stopped whatever he was doing, writing on a whiteboard I think, and turned to me and said, “The game is won in the fourth quarter.”

I don’t recall much after that exchange, and on the flight back to ORD I pondered that phrase and guessed that he had decided he hadn’t had the impact that had hoped for at that point in his life – 10 years before his passing.

Now at 70, perhaps later in my 4th quarter than I might wish, I think I now know how he felt at that stage.

When I examine the Gap – between where L&D could be and where it is – I, too, feel that there isn’t much time left for me to affect the final score.

To turn the tide (and now I hear the late Joe Harless joining in and yelling, “Roll Tide!”) from L&D content on generic Topics, or generic Behaviors, or even generic Tasks – all sans a focus on Outputs (or what Gilbert called Accomplishments) – will take a village.

Or, as l like to turn Tom Gilbert’s phrase, “The Cult of Behaviors” into “The Cult of Performance” I wonder what more can I do, and how can I do it, to create THAT cult?

Your thoughts?

How can I, or rather we, move the ball down the field to score, in whatever quarter of life you find yourself in?

Me, I’m certainly now in the 4th.


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