Since PR agents keep sending me the ‘latest great news’ of publications, it seems fair to comment on on them using the research tools at hand. I sometimes feel badly commenting negatively on books people have worked hard on that I haven’t yet read, but there it is – today we get pushed preliminary information and we know executives tend to make decisions rapidly based on incomplete facts. so here goes. If it’s a bit unfair, well, it’s said there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Case in point: one of today’s PR emails used a very catchy title: New app speeds up access to success factors of High Performance Organizations (hereafter: HPOs).
Wow, I thought, someone has an app to read on a smartphone describing how to develop a high performance organization. That seemed a tad ambitious, but let’s take a look.
It turns out to be literally an app for iPhone/iPad about the 35 success factors needed, based on a book that isn’t out yet (to be released September 1) called “What Makes A High Performance Organization.” That would be 35 factors in five categories: Management Quality, Openness & Action Orientation, Long-Term Orientation, Continuous Improvement & Renewal and Employee Quality.
OK, I’m interested especially since they parallel my five keys to success, but not as an app even though it also offers that I could calculate my personal HPO score (High Performance Organization score), my personal High Performance Leadership test and a measure of each of the five categories. Wow again, all on my phone!
I like the sound of the substantial research behind this and I have heard of Professor Waal of the Netherlands. I will definitely take a look at the book, but for a preliminary assessment of what how I will critique it, I wanted a bit more than the Amazon page since there are no reviews prior to launch.
So I turned to the author’s own site about the book and read a very interesting page that raises a question many of us have been asking ourselves – but in the wrong way. Often it is the questions that tell you the most. In this case, the question is: Since 3 of the 5 success areas for HPOs involve people who should take this on for the organization – maybe neither CFO or HR?? So far I’m on board.
The upshot of the page is where I come off the rails. Wall opines that CFOs have the ear of the organization and board, but have lost credibility due to recent poor financial performance of some big players. Could be, though I doubt the majority will go down so easily. Then he says, ‘but HR has never been accepted at the top as well at others and is too busy with ‘personnel’ matters.’ Some truth there that we should be fixing rather than taking for granted.
But he goes further to say, the CEO is too busy and so perhaps the COO or someone else. OK, this is where I get off the train. First, the CEO better not be too busy to be a strong part of developing an HPO. But even more problematic is the very idea on which the whole page is based – that some ONE executive ought to take it on and drive it. This is exactly, in spades, why organizations do NOT become HPOs. Can you imagine – HR takes it on and ‘tells’ everyone they need to implement there 35 success factors. Of course, 100% comply, right? No = more realistically, nearly 100% refuse silently. Or put CFO in place of HR – again no compliance. Or COO. or even CEO? Get real.
The ONLY solution that works is for the entire senior team to stop analyzing (and fighting over) who ought to take this on (and get credit) and work TOGERTHER consistently and COOPERATIVELY to ensure improvements. At this point I’m sure the 35 factors will probably be ones I almost totally agree with. Research does turn up facts, just maybe not the whole story unless the researcher is looking in the right spot.
Just don’t front-end the argument by suggesting one executive should be appointed to make this happen. It just won’t work under that scenario. End of story. Will I read the book? I’ll certainly look, but this one gap causes me to believe there will be a glaring omission from the final product – team effectiveness at the top! So I definitely won’t buy into the app, which by its nature seems designed not only as a gimmick, but to tell one person how to tell everyone else what to do.