If You’re Using These Management Methods, You’re Wasting Both Time and Money!

Organizations that aim to earn the label HPO, or “High Performance Organization,” can draw upon literally hundreds of management methods, techniques and activities to help them reach this enviable stature. Most of these management methods seem perfectly reasonable things to do except for one “minor” detail: in most cases, there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that any of these management methods will actually improve performance in the short term, let alone in the long term, let alone at all!

It is difficult to figure out which of these management methods are genuinely important for an organization to embark upon in its quest for HPO status. That’s why in my extensive global research of 290 HPO studies, I attempted to resolve this dilemma by identifying 189 characteristics in the various descriptive literature, then evaluating and comparing them all to 35 tried-and-true HPO characteristics. Below is a partial list of what I found out NOT to do.

management-methodsCaveat: the many HPO studies I reviewed do not definitively state that the techniques, management methods and activities listed below are not important in any sense. Some of them in fact are important, e.g., every organization does need a strategy because without one it would be rudderless and could easily go adrift. However, simply having a strategy will not make an organization an HPO because its competitors will also have strategies! So merely having a strategy is not enough. Instead, HPO research shows a strategy must be unique.

Similarly, the following management methods, techniques and activities will, on their own, constitute a waste of time and money.

If a fair and equitable system is in place–and note that it does not seem to really matter what type of reward system this is as long as it’s appropriate for the organization in question– then employees will consider it acceptable and will be content. At that point, the organization can start legitimately thinking about how to turn itself into a genuine HPO.

In my new book What Makes a High Performance Organization: Validated Factors of Competitive Advantage that Apply Worldwide, I give many examples of management methods which will make your organization a true HPO!

André de Waal

[1]For instance, Blenko et al. (2010) found that fewer than one-third of reorganizations produced meaningful improvements in performance.
[2]The fact that ICT is not a decisisve factor for creating an HPO has also been found by Carr (2003) and Axson (2010).
[3]In the past years there have been quite a few authors, such as Pfeffer and Sutton (2006), Hubbard et al. (2007) and McLaughlin (2010), who warn against the indiscriminate use of benchmarking while trying to improve the organization’s result as this generally leads to copycat behavior.