Performance is highest in organizations and individuals who are externally engaged. Effective Org Change is most sustainable when mindsets and behaviors are addressed. We exchange leading performance practices in individuals, teams and organizations.
Secrets of High Performing organizations – 1# stop keeping breakdowns a secret
June 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm #102375
A study of 500 High-performing organizations revealed that peak
performance had absolutely nothing to do with forms, procedures and
policies. In fact, half of the high-flyers had almost no formal
performance management processes.
What was the key finding?
It comes down to how people handle crucial conversations. Within
high-performing companies, when employees failed to deliver on their
promises, colleagues willingly and effectively step in to discuss the
Some say that such truth-telling is not possible in Gov’t agencies. Agree / disagree?
What are some of the topics you know are not being discussed that kill agency / organizational / team performance?
- Letting an under-performing colleague know that s/he is not pulling their weight?
- Tell the boss that s/he is not role-modeling his/her own standards?
- Spending dollars because it is the end of the fiscal year rather than compelling need?
June 7, 2010 at 7:22 pm #102402
It would be very useful if any reference to “a study”, such as your post, included a link to that study or a citation. That would allow readers to judge whether the study actually supports the statement.
June 7, 2010 at 7:42 pm #102400
The study in question is from Harvard Business School Press’, “Hidden Champions: Lessons from 500 of the World’s Best Unknown Companies”
Thank for catching the oversight.
Link to Wikipedia –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_Champions
June 8, 2010 at 9:35 am #102398
Having NOT had the time to read the book but pulling “clips” from the Book Review and Wikipedia would offer that there is very little relevance to a review of these 500 companies to the public sector…
Their hallmark is continuity, with almost no employee turnover and an average CEO tenure of 24 years.
Leaders as employees need a “Inner Flame” to become, and to remain, the number one.
Hidden Champions normally work in small niche markets.
The corporate culture of hidden champions is distinctive. Their values are conservative: hard work, strict selection, intolerance of under performance, low sickness rates and high employee loyalty — and most are based in smaller towns.
Leadership style is authoritarian on strategic issues but participative on operations level.
June 8, 2010 at 10:04 am #102396
My PERSONAL Opinion
Would offer that depending on the skill set of the manager, “Truth-telling” is alive and well in the public sector. The results MAY not be as draconian (termination as a team player) as with a small enterprise which only has to answer to a CEO/Director who average tenure is decades.
I have known first line supervisors who in fact have been first line supervisors for long periods of time and the only thing that changes is their staff. These “supervisors” never seem to be assigned to “new” tasks and suspect that a specific percentage of their supervisors are aware of the limitations of these supervisors.
These managers/supervisors usually have a fairly high rate of turnover which COULD be based on opportunity or frustration…
Suspect because of the new budget restraints at MOST levels of the public sector that there probably is very little end of fiscal year spending just “because“. And if there is any end of year spending it is due, in MOST cases, to rather restrictive budgets for most of the fiscal year and because of savings through out the year (remember what the biggest expense in MOST public sector organizations are) an opportunity will sometimes exist to spend money to improve the performance of the sector/branch/division/office/????
June 8, 2010 at 11:27 am #102394
I agree to the above statements because of my experiences within the federal government. I came from an organization that didn’t want you to know what the budget looked like because they didn’t want people having that “control.” And they never would send me to any training (free or on detail) that would give me the skills to manage a budget if I ever I would have one.
On the flip side, I’m the lead in my office at a new organization where I’m responsible for proposing our next fiscal year’s budget for training and travel. And the culture is totally flipped- I have our budget officers asking me: would you like to see your supplies budget? How about how spending occured in the past two fiscal years? Would you like those numbers compared to other codes in this activity? It’s very refreshing but I have to admit I felt kinda guilty for asking questions about the budget seeing as how in the past this was a “privilege” that so few had to control many.
June 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm #102392
Thanks for extracting the 3rd party comments from HBR and Wikipedia that most caught your eye.
My question examined whether or not the behavior “speaking candidly about what is not working” was a behavior that would make a significant difference in the public sector.
Your opening remarks assert that characteristics about small companies are not transferable to the public sector. This certainly does not hold true for the transfer of technological or other management practices.
What is the reasoning for this assertion?
June 8, 2010 at 1:48 pm #102390
Building on the reply to your 1st post, advocates of more candid (more transparent) conversations assert that organizational performance is foremost driven by how under-performance is managed throughout organizations:
1) in the worst organizations, poor performers are ignored and/or transferred,
2) in good organizations, bosses eventually deal with the problems, and
3) in leading companies, Everyone holds Everyone else accountable – regardless of rank
Everyone learns/knows how to handle the conversations to deal with underperformance anywhere.
One of the challenges of Open Government (and the use of Social Media) is that more employees will be engaging with more customer/clients than ever before. The usual interfaces between Gov and the public are evolving. In the private sector, companies that managed and empowered the employee/customer interface aggressively have outperformed the rest of the market.
But empowered employees need to have the skill and ability to deal with breakdowns with subordinates, peers, and superiors.
So to come back to your opening remark in the first post, “…not relevant…to the public sector”, I again ask, why not?
June 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm #102388
Thanks – So now that you are the manager, do you want to keep the method that you were first trained in (secrecy provides control)?
Or do you see something for yourself and your stakeholders from engaging them in (or providing greater visibility into) the choices?
I have pasted the table below for your disposition. It is a framework for optimizing how to engage the external public in agency decisions. While the model does not correspond exactly to employee-manager relations, I trust you will find the first 3 columns useful (Participation level, Description, Goal).
June 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm #102386
Would offer that HOW communication practices or even technological or other management practices are implemented in the small enterprise are probably not transferable to the public sector NOT that communication or technological or management practices can/should be improved in the public sector.
The review(s) of said book seemed to indicate that the same practices/implementations would not work as well with the major international corporations.
June 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm #102384
The table that Michael posted does provide some framework to see some areas where talented/hidden champions might work in Gov. I agree with Henry in that some of the “market’ aspects of company competition makes some of Simon’s characteristics of the hidden champions less relevant. For example that it “must occupy number one or two positions in the world in its market or the number one position in its home market. (Ideally, market position is measured by market share). As Hidden Champions define their markets so narrowly, their markets are relatively small.” This doesn’t seem so relevant to Gov ops.
Also since it “must be small or medium-sized and generally unfamiliar to the public. It should not generate in excess of US$1 billion.” is probably not directly applicable to Gov ageny budgets as a guide, but many agencis are hidden with small budgets such as Mineral Management!!!
Generally Hidden Champions tend to have low public visibility and of the 9 specific lessons (from Simon 1996 cited in http://smib.vuw.ac.nz:8081/WWW/ANZMAC2001/anzmac/AUTHORS/pdfs/Blackburn.pdf
I think that at least the first and last 4-5 are relevant:
1. Set clear and ambitious goals
2. Define market narrowly
3. Combine a narrow market focus with a global orientation
4. Be close to customers in both performance and interaction
5. Strive for continuous innovation in both product and process
6. Create clear-cut competitive advantages in both product and service
7. Rely on your own strengths
8. Try always to have more work than heads
9. Practice leadership that is both authoritarian in the fundamentals and participative in the
Finally a study of Greek company innovation Voudouris et al. (2000)provided strong evidence for the hidden champion framework. and identified four ‘overall themes’ or ‘recipes’ that they contend explain the success of the ’little known firms’ . Four of these seem relevant to government and in part can be mapped to the table that Michael provided, for exampe (tools in his table maps to nee technology in the list below”
· Intense specialization in narrowly defined market segments (not relevant)
· Commitment to customer service (relevant as a Goal)
· Innovative culture and adaptation to new technology (relevant)
· Strong leadership and a healthy organisational culture.(relevant).
June 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm #102382
Again I don’t believe that the implementation of a communication process/policy in a 5000 employee public sector organization can or should use the same procedure(s) that a 20 person company operating in Kenton Ohio should use.
Yes I agree that everyone learns/knows, or at least should, how to handle the conversations to deal with under performance.
MY opinion is that it doesn’t much matter in large public or private companies how one deals with poor performers as long as they are dealt with.
Also my opinion, that very few “internal” stakeholders hold senior management accountable in any large enterprise…
June 8, 2010 at 3:43 pm #102379
While much of the coversation has concerned itself with on aspect of Hidden Champions and what is transferable from small/mid-sozed companies I think some of the subsequent framework around these innovators is worth noting and talking about.
The attached daigram of Strategic model of Hidden (SME) Champion business operations shows 4 meta-factors interacting with each other to support the Customer – Value Proposition, Strategic Drivers, Enabling Tech and Global Vision. It is in the Global Vision that deals with market niches (and some enterpreneurial philosophy). The other factors are, I would argue, relevant to Gov institutions. Indeed ideas like continual innovation are fair game for internal sponsors to push to support their strategic vision and selection of new technology.
September 23, 2010 at 4:48 am #102377
Thanks Gary. Use and thoughtful clarification — as usual !
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.