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.

High Performance is achieved by creating a synergy between increasing Consumer Value, providing a safe, secure and satisfying environment for employees, i.e. a constructive Culture and maintaining Commercial Responsibility.

Engagement is when the people closest to the consumer are directly and actively involved in solving problems that hinder the performance for that consumer.

High Performance through Engagement is achieved when those people who are closest to the consumer use, as a matter of habit, analytical problem solving tools and structured processes to identify the root cause of problems, the solutions to them and then implement quickly.

High Performance through Engagement is delivered by putting in place a work system that: 
  • is consumer-focused
  • uses analytical problem solving processes like Interest Based Problem Solving, Six Sigma, Lean and the Theory of Constraints.
  • meets the interests of all stakeholders
  • has open and real-time information systems
  • is performance-driven with continuous improvement metrics
  • is employee-based and relies on the discretionary effort of employees
  • has a management system that facilitates and releases intuition, knowledge and experience from employees
  • is focused on building constructive thinking, behaviour and cultures
  • has an emphasis on training, developing and growing people
  • is innovative, dynamic and flexible
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.

High Performance through Engagement 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 High Performance through Engagement, 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 adopting a High Performance through Engagement approach.  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.

High Performance through Engagement is a path to sustainable high performance - it is worth exploring.

HPtE Strategy® and HPHE - What’s the difference?

Both HPtE and HPHE put people at the center of achieving high performance.  The use of problem solving methodologies by the people closest to the consumer is core to both practices. Both practices leverage the power of collective intelligence and recognise the importance of employee representatives as a voice.  HPtE and HPHE have many more things in common but they are different in their approach to industrial autocracy and industrial democracy.

HPtE Strategy®

An HPtE Strategy® is an organisation strategy that balances commercial responsibility, consumer value and culture to create sustainable high performance.  It deliberately creates a culture of collaboration, innovation, confidence and achievement.  This cultural change is needed more than ever in a fast changing, complex, variable and global work environment.

The key methodologies include:
  • Systems thinking (e.g. Interest-Based Problem-Solving and Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes),
  • Continuous improvement (e.g. Agile, Lean and Six-Sigma),
  • Collaborative Budgeting,
  • Culture and behavioural assessments (e.g. Organisational Culture Inventory®, Organisational Effectiveness Inventory®, Group Styles Inventory™, Leadership Impact® and Life Styles Inventory™).
An HPtE Strategy® goes beyond the traditionally separated commercially driven, continuous improvement or culture based initiatives.  Companies that pursuit an HPtE Strategy® do one thing significantly differently than other companies.  They leverage the power of collective problem solving.
An HPtE Strategy® embeds powerful systems thinking and problem solving processes into the very fabric of the organisation.  It recognises and leverages the inherent tension between satisfying the needs of shareholders, consumers and employees.  Through constant discovery organisations find new and innovative ways to deliver more commercial responsibility, more consumer value AND a safer, secure and more satisfying work environment for people.

An HPtE Strategy® seeks to find the synergy between industrial autocracy and industrial democracy to find common ground for growth.

If you are looking for a path to sustainable high performance then click here: Why an HPtE Strategy®?


HPHE has been described as:
  • "A highly evolved and practiced form of consultation/industrial democracy/dialogue and partnership between employers and unions involving third party support.
  • Common sense and Consensus based
  • Learned and trained
  • A tried and tested method of real engagement and workforce participation
  • Union and management role more about jointly maintaining culture of engagement"
HPHE evolved from:
  • "Long standing policy of Industrial Democracy/High Engagement/Partnership
  • Industrial Democracy protocols/F & P/Health Effectiveness Studies/SWS/PfQ
  • Derived from highly successful model in USA – Kaiser Permanente"

If you are looking for support with an HPHE initiative in NZ you should contact the NZ Council of Trade Unions.

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