World thought leaders in High Performance


Implications of the 5 HPO factors for marketers


marketersIn the midst of an evolving marketing world, it’s more crucial than ever to ensure that capable marketers are in place to contribute to a high performance organization (HPO), especially in times of reorganization.

Many organizations fail to get the focus right when reorganizing, making wrong choices that ultimately do them harm. Extensive global research performed by the HPO Center in The Netherlands reveals major mistakes such as budget cuts in the wrong projects, poorly performing employees kept in the same position, and an organizational focus mainly on internal cost savings rather than proven success factors that true HPOs attain and sustain no matter what the state of the economy or marketplace competition may be.

“I see many organizations getting into a complete panic today, not knowing how they can survive today’s global economic crisis, let alone how they can emerge from the crisis stronger,” explains Esther Mollema, the HPO Center’s Managing Director. “Many decisions are unfortunately based on the short term and taken intuitively, leaving an impression of doing something to improve results. Without the right focus and proper coherence, however, this approach is unlikely to produce the desired effect, especially over the long term. So there is a challenge ahead for company executives and works councils to keep their heads and make the right decisions now.”


Esther adds that declining consumer confidence, poor results, the prospect of economy rounds, and the crisis are prompting many executives and directors to take such drastic actions as reorganizations and redundancies, but only genuinely strong organizations sharply focus on these interventions. Our scientific research shows what very different focus these organizations take to stand out positively and profitably from the rest. For example, these organizations:

  • Think carefully about long- term implications before they make cuts in projects
  • Partner the company with firms that continually permit substandard performance from employees
  • Make cuts in areas that don’t affect their organization’s core activity
  • Pay special attention to their best employees so they can serve as an example to others in the firm of how to be effective and productive
  • Do everything they can to hold onto the firm’s accumulated knowledge and experience
  • Continue to concentrate on delivering the very best results for their customers

Thus, the focus in HPO reorganizations is truly placed on the long term and continuously shared with the employees.

I see many organizations getting into a complete panic today, not knowing how they can survive today’s global economic crisis, let alone how they can emerge from the crisis stronger.

— Esther Mollema, Managing Director, HPO Center


Our HPO Center research sought out the most important qualities needed to become and remain highly successful, surveying more than 1,400 organizations in 50 countries. These surveys yielded the conclusion that five HPO success factors in particular can give organizations the proper focus during a reorganization, upgrading them to HPO status. The implications specific to marketers include:


Management combines integrity and coaching leadership with fast decision-making. They take a resolute approach to nonperformers and are results-driven, but they also always focus on the long term.

IMPLICATION FOR MARKETERS: Long-range marketing plans are not shelved. Many HPOs actually increase their marketing during tough times rather than cutting marketing spend.


These organizations have an open culture. Everyone is involved through dialogue, knowledge and experience is shared, and action follows for improved performance. Mistakes are okay as long as people learn from them.

IMPLICATION FOR MARKETERS: Risk-taking marketing tactics are encouraged. Everyone in the organization comes to see him/herself as involved in marketing alongside the marketing department. Everyone views marketing as a process for proactively advocating the benefits of the company and/or its product or service.


HPOs attempt to build and sustain long-term alliances with suppliers, partners, and customers in the supply chain. Management and staff view decisions through a long-term lens, leading to new managers being typically promoted internally rather than looking outside the firm’s walls. When reorganizations are carried out, talent is retained by the organization wherever possible rather than cast away.

IMPLICATION FOR MARKETERS: The company can be promoted as one that is great to do business with and great to work for as well. The company’s level of excellence and integrity is emphasized by marketing campaigns. Word of mouth and referrals from happy customers are very effective.


The HPO organization understands its distinguishing characteristics within the marketplace, encouraging all managers and employees to continuously contribute to renewing its processes, services, and products. Cuts are made in processes that do not contribute to remaining an HPO as the organization strives to continuously improve its core competencies, including and especially in times of crisis.

IMPLICATION FOR MARKETERS: The public profile of an HPO is always clear to marketers, and its commitment to ongoing improvement and innovations continuously spawns new, distinguishing characteristics that promote an ever-increasing value proposition.


The employees in an HPO are varied, complementary, and able to work effectively together. They are both flexible and resilient in their focus and commitment to achieving the intended results. The fact that management and staff maintain an uninterrupted dialogue ensures that everyone knows precisely which steps need to be taken in each stage of the reorganization.

IMPLICATION FOR MARKETERS: Marketers are never at a loss regarding how the HPO wants to be viewed. They are able to constantly gather new data, insights, and worthwhile suggestions from virtually anyone in the company. The firm’s wealth of support for its efforts is never exhausted.

HPO Center research has shown scientifically that these five HPO factors emerge in both profit and non-profit organizations internationally as the true success factors of leading organizations.

“Put simply, organizations that know how they are performing on the five HPO factors also know where they can make cuts, what is important to the long-term result, and where they should concentrate their investments,” adds Esther. “This helps to reorganize in such a way that they survive now, but also remain fit for a great future.”

Article from André de Waal and Esther Mollema in PeerSphere – VOLUME NO.1 ISSUE NO.2

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