Having a higher ambition is one thing, but it’s quite another to actually deliver on the promise of creating superior economic and social value quarter after quarter and year after year. To do so requires that leaders throughout the organization commit to raising aspirations and performance expectations. As Tim Solso, former CEO of Cummins explained, “it is not enough for a company’s people to have a ‘best efforts’ mind-set, in which they say to themselves, ‘I’m smart, I work hard, I did everything I could, and that’s the best I can do,’ as opposed to, ‘Did I do what I said I was going to do?’”
To ensure that their organizations are able to deliver on this promise of sustained high performance, higher-ambition leaders:
- Create a culture of mutual accountability
- Earn the right to lead
- Build the future one quarter at a time
- Focus on the fundamentals that drive sustainable success
For example, a common management approach does not strongly differentiate between high- and low-performing businesses or individuals (e.g. businesses get capital primarily based on size; raises or personnel cuts happen across the board). With a culture of mutual accountability, a high standard is set business performance and upheld through investment and reward decisions. The performance standards are linked to shared aspirations and collective purpose. People feel accountable to their peers and themselves to achieve stretch performance standards.
In this section of the site you will find posts, case studies, and other resources for performance management tagged as follows:
Search on any of the above terms or simply “Performance Mangement” to find assets and insights to draw upon as you pursue your organization’s Higher Ambition. Some suggestions to get you started are below.
The Balanced Scorecard is a time-tested approach to integrating financial and non-financial measures to achieve both short and long-term objectives. Here is a brief video introduction:
In their classic book, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, Robert Kaplan and David Norton
present a proven framework for translating a company’s vision and strategy into a coherent set of performance measures. The four perspectives of the scorecard–financial measures, customer knowledge, internal business processes, and learning and growth–offer a balance between short-term and long-term objectives, between outcomes desired and performance drivers of those outcomes, and between hard objective measures and softer, more subjective measures.
Despite widespread rhetoric about the need for organizational agility, an astonishing number of businesses stay stuck in neutral when they need to implement a new strategy, according to Michael Beer & Russell Eisenstat. In their Harvard Business Review article, How to Have an Honest Conversation about your Business Strategy, they argue that a lack of openness lies behind many failures to implement strategy and the most powerful way for leaders to realign their organization is to publicly confront the unvarnished truth about the barriers blocking strategy implementation. Businesses and the people inside them don’t learn to change unless they have the courage to confront difficult truths.