Walk on any college or professional football field and you can pick out the linemen and the quarterbacks. Not only by the numbers on their jerseys, but by their size. Quarterbacks and linemen are not interchangeable; you only frustrate them and jeopardize team performance when you try.
Each is necessary to make the team win; yet each one has very different responsibilities with talents to match. When you need a 350-pound nose tackle moved out of the way, you send in your 350-pound center, not your 200-pound quarterback. When you need someone scrambling in the pocket ready to launch a sixty-yard pass, you need the 200-pound quarterback, not the 350-pound lineman.
Sometimes organizations need to assess who they have playing quarterback and who they have playing lineman to make sure talents and tasks match up. Because the optimum performance of a person – and a team- happens when their skills match their challenges and both are given room to grow; this is referred to as “flow.”
Research by Dr. Csíkszentmihályi’, while at the University of Chicago, discovered people were most satisfied when they had the right skill set to conquer whatever challenge they faced. Whether it was at work, in recreation, or in a hobby, they referred to it as “the flow.”
The “flow” happens when skills and challenges not only match, but progress equally. If you’re in college calculus, you’re going to be bored with first grade math. If you’re in first grade, you’re going to be frustrated by algebra.
- If challenges exceed skills; people get frustrated.
- If skills exceed challenges; people get bored.
All organizations and businesses desire to maximize the efforts of their people for optimum impact. Whether it is an organization ran by volunteers or a multi-million dollar company with hundreds of employees, the desire is the same: maximum impact.
The best way to do that is to make sure the linemen and the quarterbacks play their respective roles excellently.