This week’s riff: My youngest son, Louis, is now 11 years old and is in his last year of primary school, which means that he is taking his SATs in the summer. I don’t know if you’re aware, but the SATs syllabus has changed significantly in recent years. In particular, the standards and levels of difficulty in English and Maths have increased faster than a Chinese football players’ salary!

The English syllabus is now full of testing – to me, incomprehensible – grammatical terms and definitions. Louis delights in my ignorance of the difference between embedded, relative and subjunctive clauses, my incorrect use of prepositions and the simple fact I have no idea what the term ‘modal verb’ actually means. It’s not that Louis and his cohort are any more intelligent than previous years’ students; it’s just that they are working within a higher set of standards and so are working harder and learning more.

Earlier this week I also spoke to the CEO of a company that is in the process of buying a struggling rival. His explanation of his competitor’s malaise focused on one simple factor; the low-performance standards set by the leadership team. He believes that by raising the level of performance standards, which he called the professionalism of the organization (I think that is a relative clause!), he will create the conditions for a turnaround of the business. And, listening to him, I think he may be right!

What about your business? What are the performance standards and expectations that you set and what levels of performance improvement might you expect if you raised them further?


Off The Record: The Logical Song by Supertramp

But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible

Logical, responsible, practical

And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable

Clinical, intellectual, cynical


© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.