High Commitment, High Performance: How to Build A Resilient Organization for Sustained Advantage
Achieving a competitive advantage is nowhere near as difficult as sustaining one. Therein is a paradox that serves as the title of Marshall Goldsmith’s book: what got you here won’t get you there. Even more ominous, what got you here won’t keep you here. Hence the appropriateness of the subtitle selected for Beer’s book. What he shares is an abundance of observations, questions, issues, suggestions, and recommendations that are anchored in more than 40 years of real-world experience. In the Introduction, he refers to his quest to study and build high commitment, high performance (HCHP) organizations. What he provides is what he has learned about what works, what doesn’t, and the reasons why.
Written in collaboration with Russell Eisenstat and Nathaniel Foote, this volume provides a number of different perspectives and knowledge concerning several key disciplines that include strategic management, organization design, human resource management, culture and organization development, enterprise learning, and change initiatives. Beer observes, “Employing these diverse perspectives, I propose three paradoxical organizational outcomes needed to achieve sustained high performance [i.e. performance alignment, psychological alignment, and the capacity for learning and change], articulate five management levers for designing an organization to achieve these outcomes [i.e. leadership at all levels and in all areas, an effective learning and governance system, a strategic performance management system, an organizing system, and an HR system], and present a framework for change and its transformation.”
Here’s a key point: Obviously, there must be high and sustained commitment at the senior executive level. Much more importantly, C-level executives and other supervisors must also demonstrate – not only affirm — consistently high performance. Otherwise, they cannot expect those for whom they are responsible to do so and their organization will not survive in its competitive marketplace, much less dominate it. Moreover, as Beer explains in the Epilogue, “CEOs and their top teams will have to engage their hands to design very different management practices, particularly with regard to the firm’s performance management and compensation systems. The former must enable hard-hitting, fact-based reviews of the business to achieve essential shirt-term profits in a way that does not compromise the firm’s larger purpose and its long-term performance. With regard to the latter, surely a shift away from incentives for annual profits to incentives tied to long-term performance (five to seven years) is in order.”