Benchmarking performance: are you the tallest of the dwarves?
I was involved in a meeting last week where the discussion was focused on performance benchmarking. Basically, how good is our rapid learning organisation or knowledge management capability? The interested is in performance improvement, focused on results and impact in relation to time, safety, quality, innovation and cost.
Much like many organisations, this firm worked on the insider view – they look at their highest (best) performers and analyse others against them. This is fine, but the insider view has a weakness, in that it is insular. You have to ask, would our top performers be the highest performers in other organisations or would they be seen as our “best” performers by all current/future clients/stakeholders? In other words, how do you know that they are not the tallest of the dwarves?
To answer this question you need to take an insider/outsider view, where you look at your organisation with fresh “outsider” eyes. For example, to help look at performance analysis, we created a research/evidence focused “best in breed” model to analyse capability – basically, a Utopian organisation that is focused on adaptive capability (agile, or sustainable competitive advantage over time), in terms of rapid learning or knowledge management culture (leadership model/structure/process). This is something you can do.
In simple terms, start from a position of empathy. Engage with stakeholders and involve them in developing your model. If you could start from scratch, what would your best-fit leadership model, structures and processes look like? From there, compare and contrast against what currently exists. Once you have the data/information, you can begin to make small tweaks across the spectrum of leadership, structure, process “maturity” to bring about change.
If you need a nudge to get you going in the right direction, take a look at this knowledge management workbook, which works equally as well for those interested in rapid learning organisations.