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Business, Winning New Business

Is “normal” distribution wrong? The end of the Bell Curve?

I came across some fascinating research this week which has huge implications for how we think about human performance. It challenges the deeply help belief that most human activities fit into a Bell Curve.

This is true of heights and weights, but when it comes to performance maybe it isn’t true at all?

Read a summary here

The original paper here

The macro conclusion, I’m afraid, is that “stars” or “superstars” are more important than we think. That their contribution is greater than previously thought, and that the “middle” are delivering much less than thought.

There are many ramifications, some uncomfortable. For instance, an employer that took this to heart would fire more people (sack the average, keep hunting for “stars”) and would probably train the  “middle” less, and the “stars” more.

Hmmm. What do you think?



About gristpresent

Presentation, Q&A and Engagement Coach. We help you win more business. Also BAFTA-winning film maker. See our new site www.grist.co.uk


2 thoughts on “Is “normal” distribution wrong? The end of the Bell Curve?

  1. Makes something of a mess out of the business coaching wisdom that says best results come from “coaching the middle”!

    Posted by Peter | June 3, 2012, 12:33 am
    • Absolutely. I wouldn’t change what I did until others have looked at this. But it might lead you to a very aggressive management style. Reward your best performers hugely, and sack the “average”

      Posted by gristpresent | June 3, 2012, 9:54 am

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