The Proper PACE for Team-Actualization
I’m a sucker for most sports. From the prestige of a game-winning shot, all the way to the agony of a last-second defeat, it’s in the emotional wins and losses that pee-wees and pros alike realize one of the oldest adages–winning and losing is done as a team. In my first career as a high school teacher and coach, I was able to experience, albeit endure, one of the most revelatory defeats in all of organized sports history. My JV baseball team had a perfect game thrown against us; not just any perfect game either, but a 3-inning, 28 pitch (all nine outs were by strikeout and one batter foul tipped a pitch) perfect game that we lost 17-0. As I mustered what to say to the team (and to myself) after the game, all I could get out was Wooden’s famous quote that “failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” I ate my own words as half the team quit, the season was a loss, and I never coached baseball again.
When I told my business mentor this story years later, he slyly looked at me with a grin and said that I did not have the proper “pace” to win. I argued until I was blue in the face that I actually did not have the right talent as a coach or talent on the team; he rebutted that talent is only one measure of a team’s success and, that any team, anywhere, can win if they have the right PACE. Ever since that day, I have been applying the PACE framework to how I lead my team at work and the potential these teams have realized has been substantial.
What is the PACE Framework?
PACE is an acronym for Plans, Actions, Culture, and Education. When Abraham Maslow unveiled self-actualization to the world in his article “A Theory of Human Motivation”, he submitted that “it gave the individual a desire or motivation to achieve budding ambitions.” When applying similar logic to a team environment, the PACE framework sets a rhythm for how the team will function, perform, interact and learn, ultimately propelling the team towards achieving its own budding ambitions. Some proponents of the PACE framework choose to run their organization without the team having clear visibility into the overarching process; others vocalize parts or all of it. The differing opinions on this side of the topic are moot; implementing this rhythm will provide clear purpose, accountability, and process to the organic nature of the team, whether the members know the framework or not.
Getting Started with PACE
The first step in implementing the PACE framework is to assess the starting point of the team and decide which area needs the most focus first. Some teams have great plans and education but very little action and culture. Others are all culture and no plan. The power of PACE is not the order of the letters but in the methodology of spending time planning, taking actions again the plans, investing in the culture of the team and continuing education/training. Here are my key takeaways on each aspect of PACE after using it for the last four years:
- Planning is only good if it is done in pencil.
- Action is by itself neutral; the direction of the action determines the outcome.
- Culture can be for vultures; there are sometimes team members who want to stake out dead projects, so don’t let freedom lead to tyranny within.
- Education is always expensive; win on education by making sure to learn all the time.
As you begin to guide your team through this framework, be sure to focus on the small victories along the way like cleaner processes, interpersonal wins between teammates, and new adapted skills. At Blueprint, we still have a lot of evolution ahead of us, but we know world-class is the destination, and we are going to get there together.