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In 2002 we set out to discover what makes a difference in the performance of organizations. We wanted to insure that our answer wasn’t based on the most recent fad, but founded in solid research. Over the next 3 years we reviewed the research reports on every study that we could get our hands on, paying particular attention to larger-scaled, long-term studies. Our approach was different than most; instead of looking at the differences across the studies, we were looking for the similarities.
As we began to review and catalog the studies we began to see a pattern emerge. First one, and then another one, and then two or three more key elements began to become evident. Eventually we had six, and then finally seven elements that were the key to driving organizational performance.
The Seven Elements of High Performance ™
Put People at the Center of everything you do; employees, customers, and community
Build Trust as a foundation
Allow Personal Responsibility through individual decision making
Share a Vision of an Aligned Purpose, Values, and Goals
Create Emotional Connections through Leadership
Focus on Strengths and Accentuate the Positive
Encourage Innovation, because good enough is not enough
But we discovered that it wasn’t enough to be proficient in a few of these elements and ignore the rest. We discovered that these Seven Elements existed in a symbiotic relationship, and that the most successful organizations learned how to make them work well together so that they could achieve their goals. This relationship is represented by the model below. Because of the dynamics of these components, they aren't something that the organization can really work on one-by-one. Several must be in place before others can be developed, and the rest must be developed equally with others.
For example, at the center you will see People. None of the other six elements can exist without this Focus on People. People are the core of any organization. It takes People to make the organization work (employees, managers, and suppliers), and the organization is always working for People (customers and shareholders). This is entirely what the organization is all about.
While many organizations are great at managing the materials and machinery of the organization, they fall very short in being able to Manage the Human Side of their Businesssm. But this is where the High Performance Organizations™ excel. Time and again, it is becoming clear --- your employees and the relationships they have with their managers and their customers are the differentiator for bottom-line performance.
Next are the Foundational Elements of Trust and Personal Responsibility. Trust is the foundation from which everything else can exist. Without Trust, you can not build Personal Responsibility nor will employees be inspired by the Vision or Leadership. Trust is an essential element for any hope of achieving high performance.
Conversely, if members in the organization don't take Personal Responsibility for their own actions, decisions, and results, then they won't be able to build Trust. Personal Responsibility is the essential element for creating Employee Engagement. And without Trust and Personal Responsibility, then the Vision won't be lived, Leadership won't exist, Strengths won't be built upon, and Innovation can't be achieved.
In relation to the 4 Cardinal Elements (Vision, Strengths, Leadership, and Innovation), all must be developed equally. If any are developed more than another, the organization will become unbalanced and will experience many problems. That is why you will see equal arrows emanating from the circle in the center towards each of these 4 Cardinal Elements. The goal is to grow equally in all 4 directions, and to continually grow.
High Performance Organizations have learned how to put these Seven Elements into action for them to achieve phenomenal results, and yours can, too. Contact us for more information about our programs and our approaches, or visit our Consulting section of our website for more information.
To learn more about the Seven Elements of High Performance™ please read our whitepaper, The Dynamics of High Performing Organizations, or our book, Leadership Lessons From the Medicine Wheel: The Seven Elements of High Performance.