Improvement Methods That Will Not Help You
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In recent years
managers have been bombarded with hype about one or the other
method. But most of these improvements were initiated without any
proof that they truly work, so there was a lot of chaff under the
wheat, so to
speak. Organizations were regularly set on the wrong track and exerted
a lot of
effort in the area of improvement without a demonstrable, permanent
Our study of High
Performance Organizations (HPOs) marks a p line. Because:
- There is now scientific proof
of what does work.
- The correlation between all
improvements has now been identified for the first time.
- There is now scientific proof
of what does not work, in the sense that it is not a distinguishing
factor for making and keeping an organization a High Performance
managers can for the first time develop a targeted focus on things that
truly effective and can eliminate other things that they might have
lot of attention to in the past. Because many things that were
considered as important appear not to be decisive for a high performing
organization. These are matters that may be important but they do not
necessarily ensure a continuously excellently performing organization.
describe a few examples of such matters in this article.
organizational design or organizational structure appears to have a
correlation with the results of an HPO. It therefore does not appear to
whether an organization opts for a functional design, a
institution or a matrix organization: none of these organizational
guarantees the transition to a high-performance organization.
something for which many organizations appear to opt time and again
difficulties arise, will thus not necessarily help sustainably improve
organization’s performance. A reorganization must be for the benefit of
five HPO factors; otherwise it will likely work in a counter-productive
Even a large
degree of employee independence does not “automatically” lead to better
results. And this despite the enormous amount of attention devoted to
“empowerment” in recent years. What’s more: An excessively high measure
autonomy has a negative relationship with the organization’s result.
freedom for employees can lead to bad internal organization and to lack
clarity. Ultimately it can even lead to a lot of damage, certainly if a
measure of central coordination and direction is lacking. Management
indicate the playing field on which the employees can operate
the boundaries they may not exceed, under penalty of being fired, for
strategy plays a relatively unimportant role when it comes to high
It does not matter whether an organization opts for cost/price
product differentiation, customer intimacy or a combination of these
strategies: the distinguishing factor is the uniqueness of the selected
strategy in the sector or market in which the market operates. The
a “me too” strategy is always misplaced if the organization want to be
Analysis of the HPO study shows that when strategy as a factor is
the management quality factor, the latter is more important to the
the organization. In other words: a team of good people can achieve
it wants, while an organization with a clear and well-defined strategy
the people to implement it will ultimately fail.
in particular information and communication technology, is relatively
unimportant. Many organizations spend a lot of time and energy
ICT systems. However, these actions do not in turn “automatically” lead
achieving HPO status. For example, implementing an automated CRM system
not automatically lead to employees becoming more customer-friendly.
improvement of the ICT must be for the benefit of the five HPO factors.
factor will not be able to make continuous improvement without good ICT
not an objective in and of themselves. Organizations often see
benchmarks as an
end goal, while the HPO sees a benchmark as a starting point. Or as a
departure from which the HPO will try to move away as much as possible
to differentiate itself from its competition.
examples show what many non-HPO organizations often spend their energy
golden HPO rule is that implementation of these things always has to
least one of the five HPO factors (management quality, openness and
orientation, long-term orientation, continuous improvement and renewal
quality of employees) in order to be effective.
About the Author
Professor André de Waal MBA is an associate professor of
strategic management at
the Maastricht School of Management (The Netherlands) and Academic
Director and owner of the HPO
as well as a renowned global Performance Management expert. He
has been selected as one of the ten
Dutch Masters in Management,
thinkers and writers that have influenced management thinking in the
Netherlands the most in the past
decade. He is also a former partner at Arthur Andersen.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-03-28 12:48:21 in Business Articles