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Performance vs. Potential: Van Halen (David Lee, Sammy and... Gary)

Performance vs. Potential – it’s the only way to look at who’s a star and who’s a scrub in your organization.  You can also use it for lots of other purposes, namely comparing the relative merits of Brat Pack movies starring Molly Ringwald.  OR - which version of Van Halen was better - David Lee or Sammy?

You’re not following me?  I was up a couple of weeks ago at the bswift Annual Conference in Chicago, where I spoke about The 9 Faces of HR – a primer on how to morph the performance/potential grid to evaluate HR teams and HR candidates you’re thinking about hiring.

Here’s one of my slides – Using Performance vs Potential to evaluate the 3 different versions of Van Halen.  Breakdown after the slide (click the slide for a bigger version):

Performance and potential - Van Halen

The breakdown is pretty simple.  Van Halen under David Lee Roth?  Good if not great performance (record sales), but wow - what potential.

Van Halen with Sammy Hagar?  Great performance, sold a bunch of CD's - but not as much depth with the potential as with David Lee.  Which is deeper with the potential to change the way a kid views playing the guitar?  "Unchained", or "Love Comes Walking in"?   I rest my case.

Sadly, most of you don't know that Van Halen tried a third lead single after Sammy pissed everyone in the band off - the lead singer of Extreme - a dude named Gary Cherone.  Low performance, low potential.  Code For: "Retire" and get ready for the David Lee Roth reunion tour.  Where's my spandex pants with tassles?

From the high potential, good performance David Lee era:

"You say, I cannot get there from here, baby
Then I don't care where I'm goin'
Here's to your thin red line
Mmm, I'm stepping over...

Thought you'd never miss me till I got a fat city address
Non-stop talker, what a rocker
Blue-eyed murder in a size five dress

Change, nothin' stays the same
Unchained, and ya hit the ground runnin'
Change, ain't nothin' stays the same
Unchained, yeah ya hit the ground runnin"

Have a great weekend.  One of my favorites below, email subscribers click through for the video.


Mitchell S. Davis


Aaron Strout

Blog writes very fascinating, expect more good article.

Joel Kimball, Fearless Leader

We've talked about this before. I note that I stopped buying VH albums (cause I was an adult when they came through the first time!) once David Lee left. Not consciously - I just never bought one with Sammy.

What does that have to do with HR? WHO CARES???! And you can't spell "Who Cares" without "HR"....

Thus endeth the lesson...


The awesome chart reminds me of Vulture's amazing visual charts too. Great post, man. Thanks for sharing!

-employee training database-


The best part of Gary Cherone joining Van Halen? No more sh*#y group Extreme. So help me god if I have to suffer through "More than words" one more time.

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