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AI Revolution: Supercharging Performance and Reflecting on Leadership with Garry Ridge

Chris Wollerman

November 29, 2023

Welcome to November! The elk herds are migrating by the hundreds this month from the freshly covered snowy mountains in the Grand Tetons down into the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole. This photo was taken at sunrise just a few feet from our Inspire Software Headquarters. The bull elk in the center of the photo was surrounded by 30-40 elk cows and calves just outside of the photo and leading the way to the valley. 

Teton Elk - 1

This photo was taken at sunrise just a few feet from our Inspire Software Headquarters.

Supercharge Your Performance with AI

I recently had the pleasure of co-hosting a webinar earlier this month with the ever witty and funny Garry Ridge, the Chairman Emeritus of WD-40, on the topic of Supercharging your performance with AI. During our discussion, we both agreed that AI has been a game-changer in transforming performance management from low-quality and low-value end-of-year activities to helping achieve much higher quality results in less than half the time. 
As an example, we recently held our own end-of-cycle performance reviews using Inspire’s new AI assistant and observed significant improvements in both time and quality first-hand. The AI assistant provided first draft comments for all employees on their self-assessments, while also saving managers’ time exponentially based on the number of direct reports they have. The quality of the self-assessments and appraisals has also improved significantly. Not only are these reviews better written, but they avoid focusing only on performance at the end of the review cycle (also known as recency bias). The AI assistant uses data gathered throughout the cycle, including objective updates, check-ins, recognition, and 1-1 conversations, and is also able to tap into each person’s DISC personality assessment so that the managers’ appraisals are written in a style and language that is most preferred by everyone receiving the reviews. 
Garry Ridge and I share a lot in common beyond our ideas on performance management. We both became CEOs of our respective companies in 1997. Garry was appointed as the President and CEO of WD-40 Company, while I became the CEO of InnovaSystems International, LLC. 
Recently, we both retired in 2022 after 25 years to start new endeavors to help other business leaders achieve great results. We also both graduated from the University of San Diego with a Master of Science in Executive Leadership (MSEL) in the early 2000s. 
We were both able to apply what we learned in our companies to create cultures of high engagement and high performance using a continuous performance management approach.  Garry co-wrote the book “Helping People Win at Work” with Ken Blanchard in 2009 about performance management and challenged our MSEL alumni to implement it at our companies. This prompted me to create Inspire Software to help our company and many others apply these ideas and skills. You can find a summary of the key concepts behind “Helping People Win at Work” here.

Some of Garry Ridge’s amazing achievements at WD-40 Company include:

  • He led the company’s global expansion to over 176 countries and territories.
  • He developed a culture of loyalty and passion among the employees, resulting in a 93% employee engagement rate.
  • He grew the net sales of WD-40 Multi-Use Product to $530 million and WD-40 Specialist to $100 million.
  • He collaborated on multiple leadership books and created The Learning Moment to share his coaching mentality and servant-leadership philosophy.

You can check out the recording of our webinar on Supercharging Performance with AI at this link. Have a great holiday season and stay tuned for my next blog on preparing your company for success in 2024!

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