FLOW, the Kick of High-Performance

Let’s illustrate how High Performance Organizations should NOT be like.


The curtain opens…

…teams working on repetitive, mechanized tasks, with predictable results, no collaboration between departments, no connection with the customers, no innovation and while doing their job the team members think about changing the course in their careers…”


The title of the play?

I, with the permission of Gabriel García Márquez, would title it “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”


The robotization of talent. The suicide of human creativity that announces the death of an organization.

We have grown up robotized by our educational system and guided by the expectations that others defined for us. In some cases, this has made us believe that “setting a goal” is only necessary to meet the expectations of others, not our own. This is the key of Agile talent development.


Moreover, this is actually fairly common reality in a number of modern-day organizations. Organizations that still connect development plans with sterile annual performance evaluations. Groundhog Day for most employees, that big meeting with “the boss”, where they talk about how great the company and work could be in a different world. This is not how High Performance Organizations work.


HIGH PERFORMANCE AND THE STATE OF FLOW


So, what is the most common result? Lots of promises, good intentions and some Excel or language course to satisfy the expectations of “bosses” who want to deliver the evaluation to HR asap to keep them from bothering.


Regarding objectives, self-reflection and dialogue on individual and organizational improvement plans is politely prevented. The setting of objectives is based on a “one-way dialogue” (yes, I meant it: “dialogue” in one direction) using the great strategy of the carrot for making a rabbit run like a cheetah. Why, how and where it matters little. Making the most of each person’s ability to innovate through his/her development matters even less.


WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES HIGH PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATIONS DIFFERENT?

Flow.

If you’re wondering what FLOW means, you can be anwered quickly:


Flow is the kick of High Performance. The happiness of overcoming.

Flow is the backbone of high performance business strategies and the key to High Performance Organizations. This fact was confirmed years ago by the psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in the results of his most important study: people who value their life as “very happy” are those who experience more flow states in their daily lives.


This is exactly what those who are High Performance Organizations today have already recognized a few years ago. Guided by the best psychologists as well as organizational and talent experts (e. g. Douglas McGregor, Stephen Covey, John Gardner, David Hanna among others for Procter&Gamble), they designed value creation systems aimed at achieving superior results by optimizing the development of human Agile talent and respect for people’s human skills.


For example, Procter & Gamble call their individual development system “PEAK” Performance: it integrates strategy deployment, evaluation and continuous 360º feedback, career plan and development plan through a process of individual reflection as well as constant dialogue and feedback with leaders and mentors. This system is supported by their strategy focused on making every employee’s daily routine in the company a “Vibrant Living experience”. Vibrant Living is the official name of this strategy in the Organization.


BUT… HOW DO WE PERCEIVE THE FLOW STATE?

To answer, let’s start with some diagnostic questions:


  • Have you ever forgotten about time while working on a challenging and ambitious project?
  • When was the last time you enjoyed creating something so much, alone or in a team, that you forgot about all your worries?
  • Have you ever felt energized in the process of finding an improved way of working?
  • Have you ever felt the satisfaction of responding to your clients’ needs through highly demanding and meticulous work?

If so, congrats! Such feelings are flow and it is what High Performance Organizations pursue every day, for all people at all levels.


Nevertheless, flow requires the responsibilities taken on by each of its collaborators and Agile talent to be constant challenges to their skills, but at the same time, to make them perceive that they have sufficient capacity and potential to overcome them successfully.




LEADERS MUST CREATE THE ENVIRONMENT FOR FLOW

Most leaders forget their fundamental responsibility to support the development of human potential to meet challenges.


A leader´s ultimate responsibility is to unleash the creativity and humanity of his/her teams.

Leaders work to meet the needs of their teams, member by member. They serve their people as their people serve their customers.


Accordingly, leaders in High Performance Organizations focus on building genuine relationships of trust through the tension and creative experimentation required for innovation and continuous improvement activities in the development of Agile talent.


As a result, leaders in these organizations receive continuous training to understand both the needs of the customers and the needs of each colleague in their organization. Research in these fields has shown that people generally need:


  • Satisfy basic needs – mental and physical safety
  • Belonging – relationships of trust
  • Power, Motivation – recognition and accomplishment
  • Self-reliance – decision making and actions
  • Fun – through new challenges and continuous learning

WITHOUT CHALLENGE AND CAPABILITY DEVELOPMENT, NO FLOW

Hence, it is the leaders’ responsibility to facilitate the fulfillment of all these needs to ensure the balance between difficulties (challenge) and capability development through learning.




To achieve this balance, High Performance Organizations use Lean and Agile learning systems as vehicles for the personal growth of each of their employees along with the constant challenge of satisfying each of their customers.


It is the leader’s task, by means of coaching and continuous feedback, to provide clarity and determination to their people, thus strengthening the confidence to progress in solving the situation step by step and diminishing the threat that fears and insecurities might come up during the development of their skills to succeed in that challenge.


This state is reached in High Performance Organizations, and it is nurtured and fostered in each of the strategic decisions. If the curtain opens on this act, we will see the customers in the center of all decisions and the collaborators in front satisfying the customers while constantly growing and enjoying every day.


In one word: FLOW.


Flow. Overcomming. Happiness.

HIGH PERFORMANCE.


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