What we see is probably not what we should measure

Go with me.  I recommend a book–“The Sports Gene” by David Epstein.  In this book, Mr. Epstein breaks many myths about great athletes, one of them being great baseball hitters.  These baseball hitters when put up against the best softball pitchers in the country can’t hit the ball to save their life.  

What does this tell me about measurement?  We believe great hitters are great because they have phenomenal reflexes.  If true, when put in front of a softball pitcher, they should be able to just nail that two-times larger ball.  They can’t.  The seemingly obvious and most measured predictor of great hitting is pretty wrong.

It turns out that they are great hitters because they are watching the arm, the release, the eyes of their opponent pitcher.  It is their ability to read all of the subtle cues that make them great hitters. At such speeds all of this is done before the ball is even released.  

So in our world of work, we are measuring what is obvious, but is it at all a predictor of what makes a person great at their work?  What underlying skills or behaviors may actually be a better indicator and more important to develop?  How can we develop these skills?  Can they be developed?

Jonathan Shaver