Performance in Motion

Let me share some recent statistics. The number two most googled business term world-over is performance while the number one googled term in the post-COVID world is collaboration.

One and two – there they sit like the bookends on the shelf of excellence. Without addressing them as an interconnected web of activities that moves the organization closer towards excellence be it in a team, department, division, or an entire enterprise, improving performance is virtually impossible. 

There exists an inexorable link between collaboration, performance and excellence that is undeniable and much more impactful on bottom line performance than meets the eye. 

Moreover, I’ve developed a roadmap to help build a collaborative organization to gain the competitive advantage and provide you with a leg up on being considered a great leader – and isn’t that what it is all about!

If my 25 years of consulting and research experience has taught me anything it’s that to maximize performance and move your organizations closer towards excellence you first must optimize the collaborative process. This starts with designing structures that are agile and work systems that are flexible and scalable to quickly adjust to the fluid market and competitive conditions. 

In fact, to accomplish this is a mandate to succeed in the age of collaboration. Michael Porter, the preeminent expert from the Harvard Business School on value-based management, may have said it best when he claimed “instantaneous equates to competitiveness.”  That’s the world we compete in today.

You know there is a vast difference between leading and managing. The former is more about commanding the workplace and influencing the workforce to move forward. The latter is more about administrating that which exists. Both are good and necessary in an organization. And the evidence is clear that everyone leans one way or the other in their leadership style.

Regardless of which way you lean, to maximize organizational performance means optimizing the collaboration process, especially in this age of collaboration. Think of it this way. To out-perform competitors begins by knowing how to out-focus them through collaboration. To see in your operations what competitors can’t see in theirs – that is the ultimate objective of collaboration. 

In my latest book OUTFOCUS, I provide a roadmap to help leaders build the collaborative organization of tomorrow to gain the competitive advantage. Called the Five Focus Factors, they are guideposts for helping leaders create the collaborative organization of tomorrow – a requirement to improve performance!        

For now, let’s just summarize the first two Focus Factors and see how they help you out- perform competitors by out focusing them first. 

Focus Factor #1 

To outfocus competitors, leaders must overcome the fallout that leading on-the-fly has on Core Leadership Functions.

After working with hundreds of leaders and watching them struggle to keep pace flying between meetings, I finally recognized that there exists a modern-day phenomenon that I dubbed “On-the-Fly Leadership.” After years of observation, I deduced that no leader great or otherwise can escape its reach – bar none! 

I also discovered that this phenomenon directly affects what I call the “Core Leadership Functions” such as meeting management, reporting and decision making. Statistically, these three functions consume about 70% – 80% of leaders’ time and are the critical function that must be mastered to be considered a great leader.

The secret to contending with this dastardly phenomenon is twofold: 

1. Automate as much of the business process as possible to perform low-value work to free up human hands to concentrate on more value-rich work. 

2. Consolidate and integrate the fragmented resources used today to manage the business process as they just do not work well – and evidence abounds confirming that this statement is true! 

Focus Factor #2 

To outfocus competitors, leaders must hone attention skills to counter the blowback effect that leading on-the-fly has on their ability to volitionally focus on the things that matter.

Let me start by sharing an interesting factoid born out of a McKinsey study conducted in 2020 finding that executives today lead through what they called “immediacy.” Meaning leaders run from one tactical fire to another – and even more disturbing is that it’s a growing trend.  

Let me share a second astonishing factoid that serval leading research firms agree on. Poor organizational performance costs Fortune 500 companies ALONE between $20B – $30B on    bottom line performance each year, and that number has been on the rise over the last decade.

Now let me share a third and final factoid. According to every leading organization and performance expert on the planet, the gap between goal setting and execution is widening. That’s correct – getting bigger!   

This is what occurs every day in the workplace. These factoids support the on-the-fly theory to a tee: leaders lead through immediacy, leaders bottom-lines are being ripped apart because of their inability to focus and the widening gap between goal setting and execution holds the key to success or failure on the battlefield of tomorrow.  

Knowing how to hone attention skills is not trivial. To improve, leaders must understand the mechanism at work and possess the know-how to get teams involved so they can lead from a strategic position. As the rubber band of resources continues to contract and the workplace becomes an ever-more complex place to get the job done, leaders struggle to keep pace! 

Yet there are signs on the horizon that advanced technology will play a bigger part in helping leaders to simplify meetings, simplify reporting, and simplify the decision-making process. Each of you stands at a crossroad. You must decide whether to stay the course using tools and techniques from yesteryear or take the road less travelled and seek next generation solutions to help forge the collaborative organization of tomorrow to gain the competitive advantage. 

Remember this. Performance is not static. Performance is constantly in motion. What is considered performance excellence today will not be considered excellence tomorrow. Progressive leaders understand this. They are doing everything in their power to be informed, be bold and above all be ahead of the collaboration curve – as performance never sleeps!