Blue Angels at Kaneohe AirshowWhat does it take to develop a high performance culture?

Given that I’m a data head, and primary author of this Data Heads blog, you’d think I’d say it’s the data.

It’s not.

Data by itself won’t transform anything.

It can even undermine performance improvement when it is used defensively. Transformation happens only when your organization embraces data –good and bad – and then acts on it.

This idea isn’t new or original.

Gartner Research Analyst Debra Hofman developed a matrix (“Metrics and Measurement Maturity: It’s All About Improvement, Debra Hoffman and John Hagerty, August 2010, refreshed July 16, 2013) to help manufacturers evaluate their capacity to transform their business with data:

Measurement Maturity Archetypes


Measurement Maturity Archetypes Source: Gartner (August 2010)


On this matrix, Measurement Aptitude “is a company’s ability to measure.” They “know what to measure, have an ongoing program in place for measurement and can easily access high-quality, useful performance metric data repeatedly and in a reasonable amount of time.”

Results actionability, according to Hofman’s report, “is a company’s ability to turn the results of a measurement exercise into action, leading to tangible performance improvements.” Actionability includes “the ability to accept results, both good and bad, of a measurement process, and the ability to act on those results.”

The Measurement Maturity model outlines four possible options archetypes for organization maturity.

The upper right quadrant, Excellence Addicts, “is the sector of the stars — companies with great measurement aptitude and highly advanced in their results actionability.”

The lower right quadrant, The Right Stuff, “are eager to act, but they have no hard-data foundation on which to act.”

Companies in the upper left, Analysis Paralysis, “can get at the numbers, but have little organizational ability to act on and turn them into a performance advantage…. they don’t know what to do with the results. “

Companies in the lower left, Ingrained Inertia, “are characterized by a poor measurement aptitude and low results actionability… They’re just spinning their wheels.”

What is your Measurement Maturity?

Most of the manufacturers that I talk to fall on the left side of this graphic. Of course you would expect that since I’m talking to a self-selective audience. People who are already Excellence Addicts probably don’t need our help. I suspect that a large portion of the people we talk to are those in the lower right. They know what they need to do, but they need a better infrastructure to automate and support their eagerness to act.

I’m amazed by the number of organizations that still lack both the infrastructure and the ingrained, organizational core competency of turning knowledge into action. Why aren’t all organizations Excellence Addicts? Why are so many companies still stuck on the left side of the matrix?

So the important question is how do we create a culture that has high measurement maturity? This may be one of the most important questions facing manufacturing today because according to Hofman’s report, “Companies with higher levels of measurement maturity have better overall performance.”

Transforming culture is complex

Transforming organizational culture is a complex topic, and while I’m a student of it, I’m no expert. I can tell you that I often see our customers use GainSeeker Suite as their fundamental tool to move from the left side of the matrix to the right side, or from the bottom right to the upper right quadrant

How this happens is very interesting. What we see is that a good measurement tool that everyone understands and commits to can remove bias (or perceived bias) from data. It also makes data more timely so that you’re always dealing with current events – not perceptions of events that happened a long time ago. A good measurement tool – assuming you’ve carefully thought through your metrics – reduces the noise and clutter. That, along with timely and unbiased data, brings greater focus to the organization and greases the wheels of transformation.

So while a good measurement tool doesn’t cause transformation, it can be a critical enabler when it is used to support the structure, processes and culture of high performance.

If you’d like to learn more about how one client used GainSeeker Suite to empower their shift to a high performance culture, click on this link (opens in new window).