Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The culture of performance

Howard Dresner gave a nice interview to Intelligent Enterprise, where he answered the questions of Doug Henschen and told about his upcoming book: Profiles in Performance: Business Intelligence Journeys and the Roadmap for Change.

In the interview, he explained the concept of "Performance Culture Maturity Model", described in his book, with six dimensions and four levels of maturity. He also told about the organizations that he published the case studies in the book.

Below I highlighted some answers at the interview:

I'll describe the six major dimensions. Two of them are strategic, two of them are operational in nature and two of them are technical. The first one is alignment with the mission as a cultural tenet. In other words, it's about people who really believe in what they're doing. That's clearly culture. Another one is transparency and accountability. If you're aligned with the mission and believe in what you're doing, next you have to share information, and everybody has to hold themselves and the organization accountable. The information may come from computer systems or it may not. The point is that it's open and transparent. If everyone is open it's really a good thing. The problem is that in most organizations, everybody wants everyone else to be open and they want to stay closed.

Another dimension is being able to resolve conflicts. A performance-directed culture is able to air these conflicts and resolve them in a positive way. You get the issues out there.

Action on insight is another dimension, that simply means when you learn something, you're able to act upon it in a coordinated fashion. In so many environments, when something becomes known, people stick it in their hip pocket and don't do anything. Acting upon insight is simply about taking information, changing behavior to take advantage of what you've learned and, at the highest level of achievement, doing it in a coordinated fashion.

The technical dimensions starts with trust in the data. A lot of information is going to come directly or indirectly from some sort of a system, but not always. Where did it come from? And what do I do with that information? That's really important. Am I going to be transparent? Am I going to make sure that we share this insight openly and that we act upon it as a single organization? How does an organization behave like a single organism and achieve its objectives as effectively as possible?

The sixth dimension is availability and currency of information. And does the currency of that information actually match the application? Those last two are technical and are very much about data, because information is the lifeblood of a performance-directed culture.

The four levels go from "chaos" to "departmentally optimized" to "the performance-directed culture emerging" to "the performance-directed culture realized."

If you want to have things like transparency and accountability, well, that's BI and performance management in terms of an implementation perspective, but not in terms of a cultural perspective. You have to have the systems and support if you want to achieve this on any kind of scale, but there's an attitude that goes with that.

I agree with him, the culture of the organization is determinant to the success of a performance management initiative. Based in the interview, I am anxious to read his book.

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