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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Step Change - The Bob Beamon Effect

I recently had a very interesting conversation with a fellow HR professional about the necessity for organizations to embrace step change in order to remain competitive.  During the course of this discussion we talked about the Bob Beamon effect.

For those who are not familiar with Bob Beamon, he was responsible for a step change event within non-professional sports in Mexico at the 1968 Olympics.

By way of background, going into the 1968 Olympics, the world long jump record was 27 feet, 4¾ inches, shared by American Ralph Boston and Soviet Igor Ter-Ovanesyan. Over the years there were incremental improvements to previous records however, all of that changed in 1968 when in six seconds, Bob Beamon, a 22-year-old New Yorker took exactly 19 loping strides and hit the sand in the pit at 29 feet, 2½ inches!

Not only was he the the first long jumper in history to reach 28 feet, he also became the first to reach 29 feet, he shattered the world record by an unbelievable 21 ¾ inches which went unchallenged for almost 23 years.

Bob had barely qualified for the Olympic long jump finals after fouling in two of his qualifying runs and only through sch ere determination, perseverance and an unfettered desire to win, he set a new world record.

Some people would say "so what", I would suggest, it takes someone like a"Bob Beamon" to smash through the status quo, crush current records, paradigms, cultures and thinking in order to establish the new bench mark and standards for which all others will be measured.  If you lack the passion to win, you might as well surrender to the competition now because you have become redundant and will be left behind.

The Bob Beamon's of the world need to stand up and declare themselves and, smart organizations need to embrace them because, "you can't do today's job with yesterday's methods and expect to be in business tomorrow".

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