High Performance Organisations
“We are in the middle of one of the most profound shifts in human history, where the primary work of mankind is moving from the Industrial Age of “control” to the Knowledge Worker Age of “release.”
- Stephen R Covey
For centuries people have organised themselves into collective groups intuitively knowing that together it is possible to achieve more security and satisfaction than we can alone as individuals.
But, somewhere in our pursuit of higher performing organisations this intuition got lost in favour of a focus on cost and efficiency. Multiple business and economic failures led to a new drive toward customer satisfaction. This has proven to be somewhat successful although many implementations of approaches like Six Sigma, TQM, Quality Circles, Lean, TOC and Agile have failed to deliver the expected results.
As we move out of the 'Industrial Age' and into the 'Knowledge Age' there is a slowly emerging understanding that in order to achieve sustainable performance in an organisation it is necessary to listen to our intuition and create environments where we can work together, learn from each other, bring our contribution to the table and achieve greater collective satisfaction.
Call it High Performance Engagement (HPE), High Performance High Engagement (HPHE), Throughput Improvement Process (TIP) (also known as DVA)), SUCCESS Framework, Labour Management Partnership (LMP) or High Performance through Engagement (HPtE), the foundational concept is the same.
High Performance is achieved by creating a synergy between increasing Customer value, providing a safe, secure and satisfying environment for employees i.e. a constructive Culture and maintaining Commercial responsibility. Air NZ's CEO, Christopher Luxon, calls these the 3Cs.
Engagement is when the people closest to the customer are directly and actively involved in solving problems that hinder the performance of the organisation.
High Performance through Engagement is achieved when those people who are closest to the customer use, as a matter of habit, analytical problem solving tools and structured processes to identify the root cause of problems, the solutions and the implementation plan for improved performance towards customer value and then, implement quickly.
HPtE is achieved by putting in place a work system that:
There are multiple ways to build this work system.
Your organisation is unique because the people in it are unique. A high performance work system must be customised and designed for your organisation by the people in your organisation. In most cases it can be funded within the existing resources of the organisation.
HPtE is not for everyone. It requires "courageous leadership" (think Brené Brown - Dare to Lead) and a willingness to embrace a new way of operating.
The benefits of HPtE, for those who have travelled the path, are increased customer loyalty, increased financial performance and a culture of innovation and growth. There are numerous case studies published by both the private and public sectors as well as multiple University studies of the impact of a HPtE strategy. The evidence is overwhelming that the improvement in performance that comes from a culture of engagement substantially improves the overall operating performance of an organisation.
This is a path to sustainable performance - it is worth exploring.
(Slide from an "Introduction to High Performance through Engagement")