What is a high-performance organization

There is no consensus within the literature providing an answer to the question “What is a high-performance organization:” Perhaps the best observation is "we know one when we see one."

In her article ”Towards a Theory of High-Performance”, Julia Kirby states that “ the challenge of measuring a company’s relative performance across industries and eras did not occur to anybody until 1980”. The question was raised as a result of Tom Peters and Bob Waterman’s book “In Search of Excellence.”

Harvard Business Review published in 2005 a special double issue on the high-performance organization. This publication included the views of ten different research teams on “the keys to high-performance”. There was a wide spread of opinion between these teams on how to classify a high-performance organization.

As there is a lack of any consensus on the definition of a high-performance organization we believe the following simple definition published by Fortune Magazine in July 1989 will suffice:

“A high-performance organization is one that is performing in the top 10% when compared with similar organizations.”

The following are some characteristics that we believe are or should be associated with a high-performance organization:

  • Customers are very satisfied with the value of the products and services the organization provides.
  • The organization is making optimum use of its people, processes, technology and capital resources.
  • The organization’s financial performance fully satisfies the expectations of organizational stakeholders.
  • The organization has the agility to adapt efficiently and effectively to changing circumstances.
  • The organization is considered to be a valued neighbor by the community in which it operates.

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