Guest AuthorPrabodh Sirur

Just one degree more, to fuel your career progression

By | Prabodh Sirur | In search of Postitive Intranets at In search of Positive Intranets

What ‘One degree more’ is

Mac Anderson and Sam Parker wrote a book titled 212⁰ the extra degree in 2005. The message from the book is quite intuitive.

  1. At 211 degrees, the water is hot; At 212 degrees, it boils
  2. And with boiling water, comes steam that can power a locomotive
  3. One extra degree makes all the difference;
  4. The one extra degree of effort in business and in life… separates the good from the great

(Photo credit – Quatr)

When we heard Anil’s story, we could relate it to the extra degree that the book talks about. This story is about how Anil, Head of Engineering in his company then, demonstrated just one degree more behaviour.

We are really happy to share Anil’s story with you; we are sure it will help you design an inspirational pathway for your career.


The story of how someone added one extra degree effort in, seemingly, a small task

Anil (name changed) was once invited by his HR to be part of a selection committee for the company’s excellence awards.

The task was to study all the nominations and give a score for each. That’s all.

There were many nominations and it was a great opportunity for Anil to know all the great things that were happening in his company. (Picture credit – ParalympicIndia)

Anil returned to his office still thinking about the winning teams. One thought kept coming back to his mind – What is special or different about the winners. What makes them winners? If only we can identify their behavioural characteristics, we can produce many high performing teams. In fact, we can make every team a high performing team.

He was curious to know more about these teams. He was also curious to know if the previous year’s winners appeared in this year’s nominations too. 

Anil spoke to his HR Head about conducting a study. When he looked at the data of previous individual and team winners, he found that three teams nominated in the previous year were nominated this year also and four individuals were nominated twice for awards

Anil was certain that all these three teams and four individuals had some magic recipe. He wanted to find out the “success recipe”. He sought help from his HR Head again to create an interview questionnaire that would enable him to identify the key success factors of these three teams.

Anil looked at the questions, liked them but felt that he was better off not having a survey. He preferred to have face to face meetings. He knew this would take time but he was confident that he would get a good insight from these meetings. He was sure the teams would also gain from their interaction with a senior manager.

After doing all the talking with each member of these teams, Anil drilled down his learning to these five points:

1. The teams knew why they were doing the projects, what benefits their clients would have from their project. They had clear goals

2. They knew the exact delivery dates and the quality expectations from their projects. They had clarity on the exit criteria or “definition of done”; they were always doing that extra bit

3. They had a network of people and communities (Open source group, Unix group etc.) and they did not hesitate to reach out to the experts for guidance and discussions. This equipped them with more information and knowledge to do their job 

4. They never complained about problems. They knew that problems were part of the job and since they had their eyes fixed on the goals, they could identify alternatives to overcome issues and obstacles.  This ensured that they kept making progress and marching towards their targets

5. They always kept team goals ahead of personal goals. As soon as they completed their tasks, they looked around to offer help to their teammates. They knew that they are successful only when the whole team is successful. They also wanted to learn from every possible opportunity

The list looked fairly simple, plain common sense and easy to replicate in other teams.

When he queried his HR Head about why such simple things were not followed by all teams, he got to know many things about how performance cultures are built, about the importance of leadership, about dysfunctional teams and so on.

(Picture credit – BaptistChurch)

Anil went back and read more about building the culture of excellence. He again met the HR Head and offered his time to conduct workshops for the managers. Looking at his passion, the HR Head promised to collaborate with him; they, together, built a training and mentorship framework for the managers.

Anil and some other senior managers conducted workshops for their managers. They made frequent rounds to check how much of what was taught was being implemented. Somehow, Anil was still not happy. The managers participated well in the workshops but somehow the learning was not reflected in their teams.

Anil had already overstretched himself for the sake of his cause to make every team successful. He decided to give one more try.

He agreed with all these three teams to spend time with them, to sit and observe them in action.

What he observed amazed him. What he observed was that there was some unwritten code of conduct which everyone in the team followed. They followed a number of rituals without being told. They had their own set of values; they demonstrated these values all the time in their actions.

Anil found his Mantra.

He listed down all these behaviours and created a one-page list of commandments, the non-negotiable conduct that every team should define for their teams and live by those commandments.

(Photo credit – Wordpress)

  1. How they will welcome a newcomer to the team and make him/her part of the team
  2. How they will say goodbye to the outgoing member and keep him/her part of their network
  3. How they will recognise excellence and create an unwritten performance standard for the team
  4. How they will celebrate team achievements and involve everyone in the success
  5. How they will resolve conflicts within the team to build a culture of common purpose
  6. How they will point out mistakes in others’ work and behaviour and correct them to make every mistake an opportunity to learn
  7. How they will conduct team meetings to achieve desired results while being effective
  8. How any violation of the code of conduct will be handled to build a culture of accountability


We do not know how effectively his organisation implemented his commandments across the organisation; what we can surely say is that Anil, as an individual, would have benefited hugely from this exercise. He would have learnt many new things and gifted many things to the teams and to the company just because of his attitude to stretch an extra degree.

Hope Anil’s story excites you to grab the very next opportunity to add an extra degree! If, as a team manager you create your commandments, please share them with the world. You will definitely make the world better.

Republished with permission and originally published at Prabodh Sirur’s Linkedin

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