Achieving Agility and High-Performance (both at the same time) has never been the result of a change process, a roadmap, a transformation program or whatever similar approach you can imagine in these days.
Agility and High-Performance has a lost has a lot to do with how you evolve your way of thinking about the distinctive human capabilities of people and how much you value individuality.
For us, the best way to describe “the way you think and value” is through the cornerstone principles of Company Culture. A lot has been written about it, but, fundamentally, we have experienced firsthand that High Performance Organizations, leading in their markets through agility, are built on two essential principles:
Respect for Humanity vs Robotization of People
Customer-driven Outcomes vs Silos-driven Projects
Respect means to value all the talents of every person and strive to fully develop them. Though different people may have different skills and responsibilities, everyone is valued as a true partner and individually grows and contributes.
Customer-driven outcomes means everyone in the organization works towards clear priorities defined as OKR, instead of separately working for their own functional or departmental purposes, normally defined as projects or programs.
Sometimes, sports analogies facilitate understanding: Think of any high-performing team that has achieved great successes over time. They clearly pursue common outcomes, common victories to achieve, and persevere despite a lot of adversities to reach that outcomes. They only get there by respecting, developing and using the skills of every single person in the organization.
High Performance Organizations work exactly like this. When these two principles are in force, most of what happens in the company is owed to them. Here are just a few examples that we have found as commonalities among the top organizations:
- There is a great deal of trust in each other.
- People act like owners and do whatever is needed to deliver the common outcomes that they have defined in their teams.
- People flow in autonomous teams and these teams are responsible for entire parts of the business. They have all the skills they need and take most of their decisions themselves.
- Everyone is focused on the common outcomes, driven by evolving towards customer needs. Although there might be supporting organizations like HR or Finance for example, they only exist to deliver towards the common outcomes, not to only meet their own functional goals.
- Decisions are made by the people who are closest to the issue and have the best data available to come to this decision, not exclusively by the top-level roles in the organization.
- Everyone has real time access to the business information and data they need to impact their outcomes.
- People learn and use their new skills all the time and flow to the most critical work to achieve the defined outcomes at each moment.
- Innovation is a vital part of the operation and people know that their capability to be the best in innovating is the only way to survive and thrive.
- People know the impact of their work and its link to the common outcomes.
- There is hardly any distinction between people at different levels – you can’t tell “managers” from “non-managers”.
- People behave with a high level of freedom and responsibility to flow towards where they can make the strongest impact, versus having narrow job descriptions.
- Managers are coaches. It is their highest priority to support their teams by developing their scientific thinking and problem solving muscle to satisfy customers as defined in the common outcomes.
Now is the time to bring these principles to life in all organization in the world.