The Source of Performance

Blog Post Breakthrough Results

Few European-based companies have reacted to the controversy raised by Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer’s recent decision to mandate that workers show up in the office. It may be that this issue is perceived as irrelevant in an environment where most companies have timidly allowed “home office” to develop itself on an ad-hoc, “get approval from your manager” basis. It may also be that we are not taking this opportunity to challenge our work practices and processes and the context they are intended to support: the overall performance of the organization.

Context, intent and structural integrity

In my work with many organizations over the past 20 years, I have come across practices and processes that are misaligned with the initial context and intent or are inadequate to support the change of context and strategic vision of the organization.

Oftentimes the context has not been clearly expressed, or only partially so. In the case of the work-from-home debate, some companies for example, have encouraged this policy to clearly reduce workspace – and costs. There is nothing wrong with this position unless the intent is unclear and these work practices are encouraged for misleading or incomplete reasons. Incomplete reasons could be: wanting to be acknowledged as a “great place” to work for the open-mindedness of its managers or favoring a form of “work-life balance” by reducing commuting, without at the same time clearly expressing the monetary benefits to the company and its financial health.

Execution is key

A partial or missing context and intent can open the door to the lack of structural integrity in actually executing what you promised to do and what is expected of you. According to recent Conference Board research, execution, including consistent execution of strategy throughout the organization, was a top concern of most CEO’s.

We could define execution as people, teams, groups, and business units, doing what is planned, what is promised and what is possible.

The concern over execution on the part of leaders points to a gap between what people plan to do, promise to do, and what people actually do – regardless of where they work from!

Integrity as source of performance

The most commonly used definitions of integrity is being honest and keeping your word. And yet people commonly don’t keep their word. People and organizations bend or break their own standards daily. It happens all the time, it happens to me, it happens to you. While confronting that fact is uncomfortable, it will give you access to a breakthrough in performance.

A new definition of integrity

At Insigniam, we speak of integrity as structural integrity: whole and complete, with nothing missing.

Think of a bicycle, its wheel spokes being removed, one at a time:

  • You can still ride it for while but it gets harder and harder.
  • It consistently works less well and less well until it stops working at all.
  • It loses its structural integrity.

Workability declines along with integrity. And as workability declines, performance declines.

From this perspective, any time we do not use the practices, processes, procedures in our organization for what they are intended to provide and when we no longer act consistent with what we said we would do, what we know to do and was is expected we do, we are impacting workability and performance.

Consider that a lack of structural integrity is the source of poor performance, and not the geographic location people work from. What do you think? Where in your organization is structural integrity missing? What would it take to restore workability and performance?