A Team that Learns from Excellence

The culture trains us to learn from the middle and left side of the normal curve, that is, from normal experiences and from failures.  But we have so much to gain if we choose to engage in the unnatural act of focusing on the far right side of the curve and to learn from excellence.  When I teach the notion, sophisticated people struggle.  It is difficult to even imagine the process..
This week I learned about a wonderful woman who helps her team learn from excellence.  I have a friend who works in the federal government.  His job is media relations.  He explained that he has been behind the curve in learning about the professional use of certain forms of social media.  He read an article by a woman who does related work in her own agency.  Drawn by the creative content, he called and asked to meet with her.
The conversation was ordinary until he made a key self-observation.  He was defensive.  He was putting up a front and was not in a learning mode.  With this self-insight, he determined to listen more closely.  The other person began to share some of her best practices.  In one case she told him how she holds a weekly production meeting.  In each one, she asks three questions:

  • What was our best post (measured by engagement) the previous week and why?
  • What do we plan to post this week?
  • What about the big picture?  What resources and training do we need to improve?

He reported, “Her team takes the best post and prints it out and sticks it on the wall.  Over the months since they started doing this, they have created a huge wall of their best work and they have analyzed what is working well and discovered certain storylines that consistently perform best.”
He explained, “She also spoke of their Facebook page as if it were a person.  She often asks her team, ‘If our page were a person, what would she look like?  How would she talk?’  She also spoke of their total dedication to actually reading and responding to 95% of the comments on their Facebook page.
My friend went back to his own shop and held the first-ever “production meeting.”  The meeting was full of laughter and good feeling “as we considered how we as a team can highlight our best work and learn from it.”

  • When did the conversation turn productive and why?
  • As you consider the various things the woman does, what is your prime lesson?
  • The man went back and applied what he learned. What could you apply?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?


Leave a Reply