Gap analysis is a methodology, which is often used by various organizations and individuals seeking to reduce overall inefficiency or gaps in their respective environments. These gaps or inefficiencies may vary in their nature, scope and complexity, but the same analytical process can be applied to resolve them, if one chooses to use gap analysis. According to the article, Gap Analysis revisited, written by Chevalier in relation to the “International Society for Performance Improvement’s 10 Standards of Performance Technology”, the methodology consists primarily in establishing the existing and desired performance levels, then working to bridge the gap between the two by setting reasonable goals that will help achieve the desired outcome. According to the author, determining the existing and desired levels of performance is the starting point while conducting gap analysis. Nonetheless, the author stresses the fact that this it is primordial that this process be followed by the chartering of plausible targets for bridging the said gap. These “reasonable targets” he argues, must be broken down in smaller objectives and laid out in relevant and comprehensive terms to ensure that every participant involved in the exercise feels a sense of ownership, and thus is motivated and able to work towards achieving these targets. In the article, Chevalier provides us with an example that relates to this notion. In this example he mentions that the Netherlands swimming team decided to increase its performance level in the 100-meter free-style event from 51 seconds to near the world record of 47.84 seconds. To achieve this challenging but attainable goal, the team decided to reduce this gap of 3 seconds into smaller intermissions of .02 second a week and .004 second per training day respectively. This way the team was able to reduce the difference in their existing performance level of 51 seconds to 48 seconds which was their desired level of performance, by breaking down their overall target into smaller reachable objectives.
Ultimately, though it is evident that reducing the void between the existing and desired levels of performance and setting goals to that end is the essence of gap analysis, the author of the article argues that without well informed trend analysis, the outcome of conducting gap analysis might prove to be erroneous. To support this argument, Chevalier contends that depending on the nature of the existing performance level, the outcome of the gap analysis will either be misleading or correct. For example, he states that in a given organization, if there was an upward trend before bridging the gap, then continued upward performance may not necessarily be an indication that that the actions to increase efficiency added any value.
Chevalier does a great job in demonstrating how one can apply gap analysis in order to improve performance levels in various fields. Nonetheless, there seems to be a major flow in his study of the analytical technique. Although it is clear that identifying “where you are” and “where you want to be” and setting objective to that end is the way to go, there seems to be a missing a link. It is great to carry out these steps, but how efficient are they if one has not determined the underlying problem which created the gap in the first place. For example, while trying to reduce their time in the Olympics from 51 to 48 seconds, did the Netherlands swimming team identify why they were below average to begin with? Therefore, the article should have included the process of discerning underlying problems in performance levels before targets are set to increase efficiency.