When "Good" Isn't Good Enough

The Journey to High Performance

By Rebecca Ellis, Managing Director of the Performance Lab

Chances are youve read Jim Collins’s best seller Good to Great. Although it was published nearly two decades ago, the quest to move from “good to great” is still alive and well. The pace of change in major transformations like industry consolidations, digital strategies and employee experiences mean that good is not good enough for most of us. 

So, you feel the need to be ahead of the curve and disrupt your organization before its disrupted by someone else. 

There are many ways to get to “great.” At the Performance Lab, we see clients making moves in three key areas to elevate their organization: 

3 Focus Areas

These transformative strategies likely hit home. In fact, I bet youre already trying to move some of these needles. At the Performance Lab we are specifically enamored with the idea of high performance.

Our Story

In the early 2010s we had a thesis that certain themes worked in concert to make a company the best it could be. After reviewing hundreds of academic studies, we were ready to test our theories. 

We partnered with a Fortune 100 retailer and sought to understand why some store locations performed better than others. Through careful data analysis of high and low performing stores, we were able to isolate the themes that moved in concert with other key data, such as financial results and employee turnover. Our research helped surface the ten drivers of high performance. 

Through engagements with public and private, non-profit and for-profit, large and small organizations in nearly every industry over the course of nearly a decade, we’ve confirmed that organizations that improve these ten facets of their culture will, in turn, elevate their performance. 

The Ten Drivers of High Performance

Strategy Drivers

Culture Drivers

You may have noticed this list is separated into two groups: strategy and culture. Based on our experience and expertise, we believe that a high performance climate can only be achieved when an organization’s strategy and culture are given equal focus. It’s not enough to focus simply on one pillar at the cost of the other.

Behaviors shape your culture. And that culture should be driving your business results. New perspectives are a great way to keep your strategy relevant.

– Mary Beth Oakes, CEO of Business Furniture & Choreo

 You may be wondering if some of these drivers matter more than others. While we feel strongly based on our research that all ten drivers need to work in concert to truly achieve high performance, there is a hierarchy of focus that can help an organization move more quickly. Here’s what we know about the different levels of culture:

Performance Levels

Strategically Guided

Strategic Direction and Applied Metrics are the foundation of high performance. When these two drivers are not functioning optimally, itdifficult to get traction on other aspects of high performance. 

Empowered Workforce

The next two key drivers are Colleague Empowerment and Relational Trust. When employees feel empowered and trust your organization’s strategic direction, they gain powerful momentum to deliver. Metrics provide the accountability to make the right moves in the right direction. 

Purposeful Culture

The next subgroup is four drivers that help employees feel valued and prepared to deliver results. They include Colleague Selection, Colleague Well-being, Work Environment and Intentional Culture. 

High Performance

The last two drivers, Strategic Communication and Growth and Development, are the most critical for reaching the final stage of high performance. Our clients often struggle with these drivers the mostOptimizing them is extremely difficult and typically why they fall into place last in high performing organizations. 

Now that you have an idea of how we view high performance and its drivers, you may be wondering the value of chasing it. Yes, its hard work; however, its also rewarding when you achieve it. Here‘s proof (de Waal, 2008) that high performance cultures outshine their peers:  

  • + 23% total shareholder return
  • + 20% return of investment
  • + 17% return on equity
  • + 7% return on assets
  • + 11% return on sales
  • + 10% revenue
  • + 29% profits

Not only is it highly predictable that your business will achieve better financial metrics when youre optimized in each of the ten drivers. But itll also become a more engaging place to show up every day – for you and your employees.

As we reveal our top strategies and tips for improving your culture, pay special attention to your everyday routine. Begin to implement some of our tactics in order to change your culture. Be intentional, empathetic and forward-thinking in your journey to high performance.