Performance Empowerment

There is a lot of fun and glamour in creativity and innovation but the reality is that every business, regardless of size, must evolve or die…  Finding ways to improve every aspect of organizational performance at every level is essential.  A mindset of human, process and system performance needs to be the norm. 

Human Mind-Creativity

One key to effective buy-in is to have a policy that no one will be laid off because of improvements made by an employee.  Instead, employees impacted will be cross-trained to work in other areas, support new growth efforts, or be given an opportunity to share other ideas on how they can contribute value to the organization. 

Benefits of performance empowerment include:

  • A deep commitment to the organization’s purpose.
  • A more autonomous workforce.
  • An open and collaborative culture.
  • A desire to build capabilities.
  • An ongoing approach to dialogue and feedback.

Human Performance

Every person should be responsible for finding ways to improve the quality and quantity of their results/output.  Helping everyone see how their efforts fit into the ebb and flow of the overall work effort, knowing how and when to adjust their flow in the support of others, and having the authority to take care of business in the moment are all essential aspects achieving optimum levels of performance. 

Key points include:

  • To be effective, it is essential to provide employees who are being held accountable for specific results to be given the authority and resources necessary to achieve those results.
  • Use strengths based matching between individual employee capabilities and the position requirements to achieve the highest individual performance and job satisfaction.
  • Challenge and empower employees to operate at peak performance rather than just maintaining the status quo.
  • Invite employees to participate and exercises like “Kill the Stupid Rule” to support a lean mindset and commitment to continuous improvement. [Source: Kill the Company]
  • Employ a self-regulating system whereby authority, responsibility, and decision making are transferred to front line units (value centers) with responsibility for their own profit and loss results.  When problems arise in the unit, employees can identify and correct them immediately, in the moment, not having to wait for someone with “authority” to step in and take care of it for them.

Process Improvement

Due to the continuous advancements in technology, it is essential to periodically evaluate business processes to determine if better performance can be achieved.  Additionally, other avenues for process improvement include:

Decision Process and Quality – decision quality is an area where having a defined process can dramatically improve results. Too often businesses become over confident in their decision making ability, even when they have made bad decisions, because they have had good results (i.e. the decision to drive under the influence of alcohol repeatedly just because you haven’t had an accident yet…). The magnitude of those combined decisions may not be evident until a particular consequence triggers a series of catastrophic events (causing an accident with fatalities, going to court, going to jail, losing your job, house, family, etc.).

Another benefit of having a clearly defined decision making process, is that it helps to mitigate cognitive bias, particularly when your organization has honest and open communication.

Risk Identification, Communication, Assessment, Responses/Actions, and Ongoing Monitoring are often relegated to a few people who can’t know everything.…everyone needs to receive training on identifying, assessing, communicating, and responding to risk. Everyone needs to participate in managing business risk, the more “lookouts” the better.

Business processes can be evaluated in segments within a single work group, where they transition from one group to the next (internally or externally), or from beginning to end as a continuous progression. Every aspect should be periodically evaluated. An improvement in one area should spark similar re-evaluation of other areas since new tools or perspectives are always becoming available. 

System Optimization

Means taking a “big picture” perspective on a perch high above the forest and looking down to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the system in question. How high depends on the situation and how many organizations may be involved. Ideas for consideration include:

  • Technology that provides tools and process that cultivate an informed, engaged, and connected organization.
  • Operating reviews of existing products and services for technology and environment improvements or identifying their projected sunset timeline and taking action to ensure a replacement revenue stream.
  • New product and service innovation functions and capabilities. In this world of constant advancements, there are no sacred cows.  Constantly interacting with customers (current, past and prospective) ensures your organization stays relevant in meeting their needs. 

Partnering with stakeholders can also open avenues for new products and service development, particularly when an attractive comprehensive customer solution can be developed beyond the capabilities of a single organization.

  • Organizational wide, active and ongoing, risk management oversight. Many businesses lack an organizational wide system for monitoring and mitigating risk. Risk tolerance is different for every person. Without a system in place, the organization is not consistent in monitoring and managing risk. Some personnel will inevitably overcompensate while others will tolerate excessive exposure. A system is needed to ensure comprehensive and consistent application of the organization’s agreed upon risk levels.
  • Futurecasting capabilities and functions. Without a defined system for forward thinking in every aspect of the organization, it’s easy to be blindsided by global advancements.
  • Ongoing business model and management design evolution. It’s easy to get comfortable in “the way we do things” and forget that new business and management models can provide benefits.

Hidden Asset Tip

It’s not uncommon for organizations to have unique capabilities as a result of their processes and/or systems that can be sources of revenue generation. Even non-core business and orphan products can offer huge benefits. For example, IBM transitioned from hardware sales to services from that type of observation in their own organization.