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  • Writer's pictureTerry Dockery


The President of the company surveyed the VP’s seated around the luxurious boardroom table. He ended his pause for dramatic effect, “The performance improvement initiative that we’re considering has a hefty price tag. I’m not sure that this is the right time to pursue this project. I think we’re much too rich, powerful, and arrogant to benefit from this right now.”

You’re surprised, right? No leader in his or her right mind would say such a thing in public. But all too often, leaders’ actions rationalize these and other reasons for not investing in individual or organizational performance improvement initiatives.

Let’s call this thinking and behavior “The Naysayers’ Creed.” The Naysayers’ Creed has three main tenets, which address three broad potential success states of an organization:

Have you ever heard these tenets proselytized in your organization? Do you have teammates who subscribe to the Naysayers’ Creed? If you’ve read any of our previous newsletters, then you know that we believe strongly in building a culture of continuous improvement and innovation as the mainstay of sustained high performance. Will Rogers said it best, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

If we’re agreed on the previous points, then, once again, when is the ideal time for more success? One answer is that it if you want to create sustained high performance in your organization, then it is always time for more success and for performance improvement. You need to start from wherever your organization is right now.

This being said, you can make a good case that the very best time for more success and for performance improvement is when your organization is already doing well. This is the time when you have the most resources to commit; therefore the performance improvement initiative represents the lowest risk as measured as a percentage of overall revenue. This idea of “jumping the S-curve” pioneered by Richard Foster, is shown in the figure below:


Technique #1: If your goal is sustained high performance, then it is always the right time for more success and for performance improvement initiatives; start from where you are right now.

Technique #2: Performance improvement initiatives should be prioritized and implemented based on an overall ongoing strategic management and continuous innovation program for your organization.

Technique #3: After strategic fit and sequencing are established, use return on investment (ROI) as one of the most important criteria for prioritizing and implementing performance improvement initiatives.

Technique #4: The absolute ideal time for more success and performance improvement initiatives is when your organization is already doing well; capitalize on “jumping the S-curve” with your growth momentum.

Copyright Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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