Book Reviews

 
Human Resources

Peak Performance Inspirational Business Lessons from the World's Top Sports Organizations

Author: Clive Gilson, Mike Pratt, Kevin Roberts, Ed Weymes
Publisher Texere Publishing
Publication Date: September, 2000

Reviewer:G.A. (Andy) Marken
In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

You are viewing the U.S. bookstore. Click here to view the Canadian store.

So what does a book about athletes and athletic performance have to do with public relations?

Sports like public relations is a combination of individual and team efforts. Whether you’re in profit or not-for-profit practice, it’s about winning as an individual and as a team. Every day you enter the arena to face your opponents senior management, journalists, competitors.

There have been several books by Phil Jackson, the venerable coach of the Chicago Bulls as well as other coaches detailing how they motivated, managed, guided and nurtured multi-million dollar athletes and how they worked around the super-sized egos to mold a team. Joe Torres, the twice-fired coach of the NY Yankees and his management style were recently profiled in Fortune Magazine.

Motivating a superstar to peak performance probably isn’t too hard. But what makes an average player turn in a spectacular game? Looking beyond the individuals on the court or field what about the other members of the team? What do they do to turn in peak performance? How does their individual actions impact the outcome of the play?

These are areas we have never seen explored and what makes Peak Performance useful for us as individual practitioners as well as members of the total organization. To us, that was the most compelling reason to pick up the book because we felt that if you’re out there to win then why not see what goes on in the minds, bodies and souls of winners and learn what helps them achieve peak performance?

Lots of times you and I feel the athlete has it so much easier because they don’t have to be “on their game” every day…just when it’s the event. You in turn have to grind away at it every day, day-in and day-out. Of course when you’re not at your peak it isn’t as obvious as the athlete who is standing before tens of thousands of fans and being watched by millions of others here and abroad.

Yet when the next game or challenge comes up the athlete must put the past behind him or her and dig deep within themselves to deliver the peak performance that is expected. That can’t always be easy.

The same is true for the public relations practitioner and the organization he or she works with. Whether it’s a boxer, mountain climber or PR professional it’s not an individual challenge. It is always a team effort that produces success year after year.

See. We’re not so different. It’s just a matter of scale…of perspective.

We were attracted to Peak Performance out of curiosity and to see if the four authors could give us a glimpse into the passion, grueling hard work, sacrifice and dedication these individuals have to muster to meet and overcome their challenges. Even before we opened the cover we were certain that it took more than the big salaries and big prizes for these individuals and teams to consistently produce, consistently win.

After reading Peak Performance we know that for the individual participants it’s more than just a job even a very well paying job but it is a way of life.

They approach their job with the same passion, concern and uncertainty you approach your job. Whether you and your organization are going through a major or minor business crisis, you are launching a new product or product line or you are working with local, state or federal organizations on issues that concern or effect your organization you experience the same elation and heartaches.

The major difference is that in sports teams and athletes go from win or loss to win or loss. The outcome of each event is there for everyone to see. Unfortunately the same isn’t true with public relations because wins/losses are usually “soft” or subjective. You often win by degrees.

Gilson, Pratt, Roberts and Weymes have done an excellent job of looking beyond individual stars and have put the entire team effort owners, coaches, players, finance, referees, ticket sellers, ushers and receptionists under their microscopes. By studying World Cup women’s soccer, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, Team New Zealand, the New York Yankees and other winning teams they have developed a unique set of performance guidelines. They have developed a unique Peak Performing Organization (PPO) theory that you and your organization can put into practice…immediately.

The book gives you a healthy set of guidelines that can make your work fun and produce peak performance. Suddenly you realize that business really isn’t war where you win, they lose but rather individual and team peak performance that helps you cross the finish line first even though you have been behind the majority of the race. It helps you come from behind and secure the business when you thought it was out of your reach. It aids you in turning a seemingly certain disaster into a stronger organization and produce stronger industry or community support/imagery.

Unlike conventional business management gurus, theorists and prophets, the authors studied major, international sports organizations not from the visible players’ perspective but they looked into the entire organization to see what common threads produced consistent peak performance…consistent winning records.

While the authors may call the results of their work PPO theory, we tend to believe that what they have done is to help crystallize a set of common characteristics that you can put into your own daily practice and you can help instill in your entire organization. Once you and your team start winning it can become infectious, making your day-to-day business activities interesting and yes…fun.

If you’re like me and have to work for a living then you will probably want to read Peak Performance. Reading the book is enjoyable and entertaining. More importantly, it will help you develop the focus and infrastructure that is necessary to go onto the field each day with the confidence that everyone in your organization is a key figure in your Peak Performance Organization and that there are no individual superstars. Just a team that wants to enjoy what they are doing…and want to win.

Reading the book won’t guarantee winning but it will make the game a lot more interesting.