High Performing Organisations produce high level results and maintain high levels of human satisfaction and commitment.
Eunice Parisi-Carew, Don Carew, Fred Finch, and Jesse Stoner report that 7 elements are evident in these organizations.
1 – Shared Information and Open Communication
Communication is the life-blood of the organisation. High Performing Organisations share more rather than less information. If information is power, the more readily available it is, the more empowered and able the employee is to make solid decisions.
2 – Compelling Vision: Purpose and Values
Organisational purpose, values, and vision for the future that are clearly understood and passionately supported by all members of the organisation creates a deliberate, highly focused culture that drives the desired business results.
3 – Ongoing Learning
This element actually includes two separate but related elements: continuous improvement and ongoing learning and development.
- Organisation Knowledge and Capabilities – High Performing Organisations are constantly focused on improving their capabilities through learning systems, building knowledge capital, and transferring learning throughout the organization. Clear feedback mechanisms with customers and the market allow the company to quickly respond to new market demands as well as make corrections in operating procedures, delivery processes and approaches, as well as products and services.
- Individual Learning – The focus is on development and providing challenge to all employees. People are seen as appreciating assets and valued as such. The commitment is to raise the skills and competencies of their employees in a variety of ways. Technical and business skills; interpersonal and group skills and personal development are offered across functions and levels. People are skilled in the content of their work, the business environment and their ability to work with others.
4 – Relentless Focus on Customer Results
Everything starts and ends with the customer. Data gathering and feedback processes are in place that ensure quick response to customer needs and the ability to adapt quickly to changes in the market place. This creates constant innovation in operating practices, market strategies, products and services.
5 – Energizing Systems and Structures
Systems, work processes structures and practices are aligned with the purpose, values, and strategic direction and goals of the organisation. They are flexible and integrated, rather than separate making work easier to accomplish. This allows the organization to be nimble and responsiveness to changing needs.
6 – Shared Power and High Involvement
In High Performing Organisations, power is distributed throughout the organization, not guarded at the top. Employee involvement is actively sought. Involvement in decision making by the front line who are close to the customer enhances the quality of decisions as well as increasing the employees sense of commitment and involvement. The environment is such that people are empowered to take risks, be innovative, respond to the customer and make decisions. When these conditions are evident, people view themselves as valuable contributors to the purpose and vision of the organisation. There exists a sense of individual and collective power.
7 – Underlying Attitudes
There are several underlying attitudes that help shape the culture in most High Performing Organisations. These attitudes provide an underlying philosophy that gives rise to the observable elements. They include the following:
- Systems Thinking. The ability to view the whole as different from and greater than its parts allows leaders to see patterns that lead to events rather than problems in isolation. Doing so enables the organisation to remain fluid and adaptable while at the same time being clear and focused.
- People are assets. The view that employees are our competitive advantage and the key to productivity, and they become more valuable with time as their capabilities and knowledge increase. Money is invested to enhance capability and recognize the willingness to share knowledge.
- Bold Action, Take Risks and Learn. The climate is one of taking action, taking initiative and willingness to learn from mistakes. Innovation and creativity are encouraged. An environment based on trust is evident where people feel free to communicate openly and without fear.
- Social Responsibility. Where the emphasis is to be good citizens and contribute to the well being of the greater community in which the organization lives.
Adapted from Eunice Parisi-Carew, Don Carew, Fred Finch, and Jesse Stoner, Leadership Office of the Future, December 2000