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The Evolution of The On The Ball Theory – Is It For You?

Years ago, when I started my career in management consulting, the big buzzword in the industry was “reengineering” and the wave of automating office tasks that would help reduce costs and streamline processes. All the consulting firms had their proprietary approach and methodology in how to approach reengineering projects, had copyrights and service marks all over their material, and we, as consultants, were sworn not to leave anything behind at client sites.


The first firm I worked for used the terms “Current State” and “Future State” as part of their methodology, outlined an approach for assessing existing processes, and then proposed what technology enabled processes would look like in the future. Being a recent MBA graduate, and new hire at the firm, I soaked it all in.


A few years later, I moved on to another Big 5 firm, working on similar reengineering engagements. Their proprietary methodology used the very sophisticated terminology “As Is” and “To Be” in otherwise describing present processes and eventual results and benefits post technical solutions. Most of this sounded very familiar.


I subsequently arrived at the term “same sausage, different sausage casing.” Ultimately, there were only so many ways these high-end consulting firms could grind up their reengineering methodology material, yet package it in a way to be different from their competitors, all while looking to accomplish the same thing – could they make a positive impact for your organization through technical implementations. I suspect in the end, it boils down to whether you as the client could connect with the person or firm delivering the message, the structure in which it is delivered, and if is it was meaningful to you.


Why share this story with you? Because over the years, as I have worked on the framework for the On The Ball Theory, I have wondered how others present their materials in the space specific to Leadership, Planning/Management, Teamwork, and Communications, and realized many of them evangelize the same respective ideas and strategies. Similar to what I described in the reengineering story, each of these thought leaders are presenting similar ideas, and it becomes a matter of whether on not their approach connects with you. And let me be humble enough to concede that many of them have worked in their field for decades, and are known nationwide, and in some cases, worldwide, for their expertise. So, I say that with the respect that these seasoned resources deserve, but it is very rare to come across one that has a monopoly that truly unlock the secrets to their subject matter.


With that said, I’ll admit here that I claim no monopoly on any secrets myself, either. What I believe the On The Ball Theory offers, by comparison, is a unique, and in some ways, lighthearted, model that almost all people can identify with, connect to within aspects of their lives, and flexible enough to apply in a variety of scenarios. Perhaps it could be considered an assessment framework, and thought provoking to possible solutions, and some might ultimately turn to a few of the experts I mentioned a moment ago to fill in gaps that you decide to address. I hope you give the On The Ball Theory a chance to connect with you, and if so, are willing to share with others as we grow the On The Ball community.


I came up with The Theory itself, and the Quadrants, decades ago. Every good management consultant has mastered placing things in a two-by-two matrix. When I describe The Theory to people, by the time I get to the Fours, we start laughing, because we have all interacted with people that fit the mold exactly, don’t know there’s a ball, and simply will not get on the ball on their own. The model is simple, has some stickiness, and after explaining it, I can be in a conference room with others, and during the course of a meeting, simply hold up four fingers, and others will know exactly what I’m referring to.


But the Eight Traits that influence the Quadrants, and the Blueprint to Achiever, have been years in the making. And for all I know, they may not be entirely correct. They have, however, risen to the top of the list after years of observation, interaction, and engagement in countless client sessions, school booster meetings, civic related activities, and raising a family.


I also believe the Eight Traits are qualities we can all identify with in some way. You do not have to be the CEO, or the company’s rising star, to make use of this Theory. Everyone from all walks of life, in all stages of their career, can benefit from understanding, and subsequently leveraging, the supporting framework of the Theory. Once we start to honestly discuss the Eight Traits, we can determine whether each is a strength of ours, or not, something we can improve upon, or not, and how groups of traits can be combined to make measurable differences in our lives.


Just the other day, I took another look in the mirror, and put the following together:



Even the author of the On The Ball Theory can slip off the ball at times. And perhaps I wasn’t being critical enough of myself, but I did remind myself of the following:

  • While I’d like to think I can and do Collaborate well with others, too often I’ll try to tackle challenges on my own rather than leverage others when help would be beneficial. I don’t know if it is a pride in ownership issue, or fear that something won’t be done as well as if I did it myself, but when bandwidth is an obstacle, help from others is essential.

  • I do consider myself Ambitious, but those that know me know that the Project Manager in me can over plan to a fault, almost to the point of not actually starting if the plan isn’t perfect. Sometimes completion is more important than perfection, and you just need to jump in and start. Once I get started, I do think I’m good at seeing the task at hand, or a project, through to completion, and will persevere to make that happen, but you don’t get to “done” if you don’t say “go” first.

  • Other traits I think I’m reasonably well balanced, but always room for improvement. In particular, as I’ve grown older, I’ve found myself to become more curious, and interested in learning new things, perhaps more than I have before.

The pages for the Eight Traits and the Blueprint to Achiever continue to mature on the website, but I invite you to check them out now in greater detail to see how they are interrelated on the path to getting and staying On The Ball on a regular basis.


Thanks for visiting the website and reading this blog. I’m excited about growing a community that sees value in this framework, and hope that you are willing to join my On The Ball Theory group on LinkedIn, and share with others in your network.


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