Tag Archives: results

Empowerment rocks!


Foo Fighters drummer - Taylor Hawkins

Foo Fighters drummer – Taylor Hawkins

Six empowerment lessons from the rock industry by looking at the history of the Foo Fighters.

The Foo Fighters are a rock band that got popular in the nineties, made it through the two-thousands and still are popular in the two thousand and tens. During the years the setting of the band changed and a lot has to do with how the lead singer, Dave Grohl, changed his leadership style.

Dave Grohl came free from the popular band Nirvana after dissolution after the tragic suicide of lead singer, Kurt Cobain. In Nirvana, Dave was as drummer responsible for the heart beat of the band. But Dave had more talents than only drumming: he also could play the guitar and bass. He even could sing very well! After some solo (re)work, he started the Foo Fighters band with him as lead singer.

In the first set-up with the band, the drummer was William Goldsmith. When recording the album “The Colour and the Shape” in 1997, William was responsible for all drum parties. Dave Grohl had set a high ambition level and wanted only the best for the new CD. Because of his drumming experience in Nirvana, he knew very well how to play the drums and was not satisfied with the current recordings of William. When William was away for a while, Dave picked up his old drum sticks and redid all the drum parties of the CD in the way that he wanted them to sound. When William came back and was notified of this, he was very disappointed. Not very long after this event William decided to quit the band.

Dave made a typical leadership error when delegating which is taking back/over the work that was delegated and doing it himself. Because it was better, faster, tighter, etc. Instead of discussing the (mediocre) quality of the recordings and having supported William, Dave chose the shortest path and took the delegated work back.

Drummer William was replaced with Taylor Hawkins, which still is the drummer of the Foo Fighters, and we can see that Dave learned a valuable lesson. He now lets the drummer, Taylor, free to use his creativity and imagination when recording the drum parties. They have established a real cooperative relationship which even can be seen during the live performances of the band: the drummer (and also the heart of the band) is in sync with the lead singer. During their performance at Pukkelpop 2012 I was really impressed by how attuned they were to each other.

Six tips for bringing empowerment to your work floor

  1. Discuss what empowerment means to you and your team.
  2. Learn to really delegate.
    1. Explain the “why” and the “what”.
    2. Set criteria for the output and steer on these criteria.
    3. Do not get involved in the way works needs to be done. Leave the “how” for the delegee.
  3. Create a feedback loop.
    1. Give feedback on results.
    2. Discuss the problems, not the person.
    3. Discuss about facts, not assumptions or personal interpretations.
  4. Start with small assignments, give bigger ones when successful.
  5. Delegating assignments means also delegating the benefits that belong with it.
  6. Give recognition to your employees.

Additional reading

Foo Fighers @ Wikipedia

Top 10 Principles of Employee Empowerment

Top 7 Self Empowerment Tips

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Opportunities in a red colored jacket


Why are we so afraid of coloring red regarding metrics and KPIs? Red is only an interpretation.

I can see following reasons:

  • Already starting from a very young age we are confronted with performing. Bad grades are marked with red and are discussed with your parents. Performance is being build in.
  • The nature (or strength) of some among us is rather achievement oriented or even competitive. We want to be the first, be the best.
  • Another pitfall could be perfectionism. Errors, deviations, unexpected results, … are not wanted.
  • Coloring red can be confronting: it shows there are problems.

Red colored Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) do indicate problems, but they also are indicators for opportunities for improvement.

So red is not only an interpretation, but also an opportunity.

When a KPI colors red, you can check it out. Why is it coloring red? Is there a problem or is the data not measured correct? Who is responsible for the KPI? (see “A RACI is (no longer) carved in stone“)

The are various problem solving techniques available to take a look at the problem: Root Cause Analysis, Brainstorming, Reduction, 8D, Value Stream Mapping, GROW, … With these techniques you can identify the root cause, find a creative solution and implement the solution.

So red is not only an interpretation and an opportunity, but also a road to change!

To follow the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle (or the “Deming wheel”), the next reporting period you can check the result of  your actions. Is the KPI still coloring red? Let’s investigate again. If it is colored green, then you can check where the next focus can be set.

So red is not only an interpretation, an opportunity, a road to change, but can also (re)set focus!

To summarize, metrics coloring red are not bad, they provide us opportunities for change and improvements, opportunities to set focus and rethink the process. Red is not bad, red is good.

Red is the new green!

So what about those green metrics?

If red is not bad, what’s the meaning of coloring green?

Coloring green can indicate that:

  • Problems are solved.
  • Targets are made.
  • Targets are made… too easy.
  • You are using the wrong metrics.
  • Management (or the KPI owner) does not see problems.

If you whole KPI dashboard is coloring green, why are you having a KPI dashboard? Why are you spending time to set it up and discuss it? Is it to be complacent? To follow a process?

When all KPIs are coloring green, an alarm bell should go off. The team is not going the extra mile, the targets are made too easy, the management is in a luxury position and doesn’t see problems, and so on.

So green’s not that good after all.

Green is the new red!

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