It’s widely understood that Olympic athletes, medal winners and contenders alike, rely on coaches to help them set and achieve their goals. They do so because to optimize their training and continuously improve performance they need feedback and support.

coach-1478302This is equally true in other important endeavors. In the music industry, singers have coaches and violinists do not. Asked why Itzhak Perlman, the great violinist, responded, “I don’t know, but I think it is a mistake.” Perlman himself had his Juilliard trained wife serve as his coach, so perhaps at least the best violinists do have coaches.

Do you? Is the work important enough to seek feedback on how best to incorporate learning into the work, the same way highly capable athletes teach their mind and body how to perform better through structured training work? Do you embrace the drive and discipline required to continually seek improvement, or is this too high an ideal for a busy building industry professional?

The good news is that a high level of performance requires working smarter, not harder. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps has a six to seven-hour workday. Fellow swimming champion Katie Ledecky has a five-hour workday. Professional cyclists, including Tour de France stage winners, typically have a five to six-hour training workday.

As coaches LeanProject mentors individuals, project teams and leadership groups through the process of incorporating learning and improvement into the workday, helping people work smarter rather than harder. The focus in this work is both on implementing improved processes and helping teams build the trust-based relationships and behaviors necessary for lean processes to work most effectively.

The most important indicator of success, with Lean or any other team endeavor, is a culture biased toward learning and enhancing present capabilities. Coaching is a critical component of developing this culture, whether for Olympic champions or winning project teams.