First, let me say I am not talking about highly productive organizations. Productive organizations get more work done than expected. High performance organizations produce the unexpected. They not only produce more, they also produce “different”.
Defining a true high performance organization is difficult. When we think about personal or organizational performance, we tend to see it as a linear scale – bad, good, better, best – or something similar. This is an appropriate way to look at productivity, which is (unfortunately) the primary way we measure both organizations and people. But high performance organizations do not just product more, they produce something surprising.
High performance organizations are also very rare. In my . . . oh, let’s just call it 30+ years career, I have experienced exactly one, for three short years. Admittedly, my sample set is biased. For the past 14 years, I have been a consultant and high performance organizations do not need to call me.
So here is what I came up with to show you what it is like to be in a high performance organization. Play along – I promise it won’t hurt.
- Think back across your entire life and find the one time you felt the most successful. Maybe it was completing a complex project or getting that big promotion that launched your career. Maybe it was seeing your last child graduate college or scoring the winning touchdown at your high school’s homecoming game. Whatever it is, whenever it was, the key is to find that ONE event where you felt the most successful.
- Got it? Here is the hard part. Sit back. Get comfortable. Close your eyes. Yes, close them!
- Now for thirty seconds, think back about that event. Relive it in your mind. Revel in it.
That wasn’t so hard was it? What you felt for those thirty seconds is the way it feels to be part of a high performance organization, every day of every week of every month of every year. Maybe not every single minute – there are challenges, but you get the picture.
The members of high performance organizations feel engaged, empowered, confident, and excited every day. They feel so powerful that no problem seems unsolvable. It is this feeling that I think best describes a high performance organization. Outsiders see what high performance organizations accomplish but they are often baffled by how they get it done. So what is a high performance organization? It is one where its members feel successful every day. Everything else flows from there.
The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________
High performance organizations are truly elusive. They are very rare, difficult to build, and even harder to maintain. So what exactly is a high performance organization? It is a place where talented and highly motivated people can unleash their full potential upon the world. Wouldn’t you like to work there?