Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Metaphor...

From time to time in my job as an Executive Director for a non-profit organization I am invited to speak to members of non-profit Boards on the topic of “Best Practices” in governance. In one recent presentation, I introduced a training metaphor to illustrate my point to a group of about 150 Board Chairs. Below is a summary, in outline form, of that PowerPoint presentation. While it is not specifically about running (as all of my other Blog posts are) I know some readers might find it interesting and possibly even helpful. So, here it is:

Focused Energy:
Endurance Training as a Metaphor for Success

Presented by: Andy Jones-Wilkins

Head of School, The Community School
Father of three
Ultramarathon Runner

1. Running Accomplishments Include:

• Eighteen 100 mile finishes including wins at Vermont and Grand Teton 2nd place finishes at Western States and Angeles Crest.
• 100 Mile National Trail Champion in 2006
• Attempting 6th WS in June
• Only runner currently in the field this year with four consecutive top-10 finishes

2. Training Plan: The Pyramid

– 50% of training is done at a base, foundation level
• Daily, aerobic effort
– 30% of training is done at a tempo level
• Twice weekly sessions of 40-60 minutes at race pace
• These efforts are hard, but manageable
– 20% of training is done at peak intensity level
• 1-2 workouts at 90% or higher of maximum heart rate
• These efforts stretch the limits of body’s capacity for pain

3. Purpose and Pitfalls
• Foundation runs build endurance and long-term fitness
• Tempo runs build strength and muscle memory
• Intensity workouts build speed and resilience to pain
• Too much Foundation improves fitness not speed
• Too much Tempo decreases body’s capacity to go long and fast
• Too much Intensity courts injury and burnout.

4. What does this have to do with measuring the success of your organization?

Consider the time you or your director spends in his or her work in each of these three training spheres:

• Foundation: Day-to-day managerial details of running the organization
• Tempo: Systems, policies, and structures to support the day-to-day operation
• Intensity: Strategic, long-range, visionary work to chart the future of the organization

5. Time Allocation in Your Organization

To measure the effectiveness of your organization consider these three “training spheres.”

– Excess of time spent in Foundation Training will threaten the long-term sustainability of the organization.
– Excess of time spent in Tempo Training will potentially alienate constituencies, particularly employees, and could lead to erosion in morale and other “softer” measures of success.
– Excess of spent time in Intensity Training will lead to mismanagement, confusion in the ranks, and, ultimately burnout or breakdown.

Therefore, as with endurance training, the best governance practices stress balance, planning, and proper pacing


Anonymous said...

blah blah blah

Anonymous said...

Was there any substance behind the outline? We're on the edge of our seats. We want more.

We took a vote and the only people allowed to vote were those that were still awake.

Your Michigan Bluff Fan Club

Bedrock said...

Well done. As a corporate type, this is much "cleaner" than the typical mumbo jumbo consultants try to peddle. Pretty good correlation too.

Anonymous said...

Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it.

Oprah Winfrey

Anonymous said...

Each time I read this blog I am remined of the figure in Greek mythology, Narcissus, Narkissos or The Self-Admirer...

Anonymous said...

blah, blah, blah, blah,, doesn't he get tired of listening to himself blabber???

Anonymous said...