Interim Executive Resources

High Performance Series Overview

There have been many studies of high performance and many models developed to describe the elements necessary to achieve high performance. Many of the texts on high performance describe high performance teams or high performance organizations or high performance workplaces and call out the attributes commonly associated with individuals or groups that out-perform some sort of norm. Before we go too far into specifics, let’s step back and put some basic definitions in place, starting with a very general view of performance.

Performance is a relative measure and is a comparison to a goal or more importantly, a set of goals. If the performance of a system is greater than goal, then there is high performance; if below goal, then there is lower performance. Pretty obvious.

Performance is a very scalable topic. You can measure performance vs. goal at an individual level and you can measure it all the way up to a large organization level, even though the absolute outputs of the two systems are dramatically different.

Goals come from various sources. At an individual level it can be very specific, e.g. increase signed customers compared to last year. For a small company, goals may focus on a larger metric like improved profitability, which involves not just customer count and increased revenues, but cost structure as well. For a large organization, the goals may be exceedingly complex and deal with many attributes of the business: grow revenue AND reduce costs AND enter new markets AND increase customer satisfaction AND improve employee morale.

Yet, no matter what the goals are or how they are set, successful businesses will have goals they are trying to accomplish, and they will focus on accomplishing them efficiently and effectively. A discussion of high performance eventually boils down this “efficiency and effectiveness” topic. Given a certain amount of effort/resources/dollars, are we accomplishing our goals and is the rate of progress sufficient to keep us in business?

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