Free High Performance Organizations: Answer Two (2) Questions Essay Sample
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Question #2: Identify three essential elements of a high-performance organization; explore the managerial and organizational actions that must occur for each of the three elements to result in high performance.
One of the most terrifyingly frustrating situations that public organizations face, be it government or non-profits, is the case of shrinking budgets and the drive to cut services, all amidst a scenario wherein employees by the thousands are in danger of losing their jobs. The model of the high-performance organization purports to solve the dilemma, or at least ease 20% of more measurable comfort into the equation. In Mark Price’s and Walter Mores’s Building High Performance Government through Lean Six Sigma: A Leader’s Guide to Creating Speed, Agility, and Efficiency, the authors resolutely express that following the high-performance model can save a modestly substantial 20 percent from their costs of operation (Price & Mores, 2011, p. 2). Obviously, there are methods that apply. The high-performance standards require a certain basic strategy to be realized, but the concept is not based upon theory alone – which demonstrates the inspiring and realistic outcomes that employing the model can do for managers and organizations today.
The task in examining the qualities of a high-performance organization and what institutions and managers can do to achieve it is part and parcel of this essay. The main focus rests upon the identification of three essential elements that comprise the character of a high-performance organization, and to comment upon the actions needed to see results in allowing the three elements to function. At this juncture, prior to delving into the three essential elements needed, it is important to reiterate the following. Price and Mores (2011) cited a real-world case study regarding a state organization in Ohio, applied the practices of high-performance to their protocol in 2009. What occurred was not only impressive, but astounding. Its primary business of back-office functions in the nation involved a lot of financial processing, associated with various correlated tasks of invoicing a myriad of expense reports. The authors convey that after employing the high-performance model, the organization had realized approximately 15% to 20% productivity rate improvements. The bottom line (the dollar amounts in spending) had been cut by nearly 70 percent! So, the point here is that high-performance is not a theoretical hypothesis only, but rather a workable solution for the financially restraining abyss many public organizations find themselves in today.
The first essential element in a high-performance organization is embracing the dual effort of being intensely outcome-focused, and ‘citizen-centric’ to coin a phrase from the authors. In other words, public organizations as well a non-profit institutions must wholly dedicate their energies to delivering the highest standards in whatever it is they are supposed to deliver, in the first place. At the same time, the idea is to also value each citizen in the public domain in terms of providing to them the full benefits of what the organization is offering. For example, in the federally run public organization responsible for administering and dispensing food supplement benefits, the idea and functioning attitude should be to streamline the process to quickly serve the intended purpose. The authors did note that the private sector has known about these principles for years, and have enthusiastically applied the high-performance concept to their businesses. The idea with this first element is to deliver exactly whatever the outcome should be, utilizing the full throttle forward of all budgetary and staff powers to so deliver them. Makes sense?
In order for results to occur, managers need to be involved and remain committed to the outcome. This means approving whatever budgets can be approved, without dragging their feet or making excuses. This means employing pro-active measures to ensure that no waste in funding which – which may be earmarked towards the outcomes – goes to waste, or sits idly in a funding purse. The actions involved to make this first element truly work, and function properly, demands that managerial efforts squeeze the last drop out of any allocations to place them towards leveraging the quality and quantity of outcomes so designated to the public. You might call it civic-mindedness, coupled with a healthy dose of ethical behavior, and a sense of accountability. Price and Mores (2011) provide an excellent example of what such delivery of outcome might look like in a “public urban transport system” wherein administrators use the “right” outcomes to include efficient bicycle pathways, or adequate pedestrian walkways (p. 4). Simplifying the process, in other words, is what it is all about as you streamline services to the public domain.
The second critical and essential element of a high-performance organization involves a focus upon the specific capabilities that allow deliverance of the mission that the institution is designed for. In the previous urban public bus-route scenario, this might entail aligning all transportation drivers to show up on time, while committing to the same hours of operation in their jobs. For example, do not change drivers’ shifts and work hours around such that employees become so exhausted having worked the night-shift, then continue the next day, working a day-shift. See the problem? If this kind of low-performance ensues, the organization will potentially be further hurt, and further inadequate – such as causing accidents, missing bus-stop pickups/drop-offs, and so on. This second essential element is task-intensive, and the idea is to apply every multi-task involved towards fulfillment of the customer’s needs. Whether long-term or short-term, the body of tasks passionately get done in a dedicated fashion. This develops good habits, and morale for all organizational stakeholders to do their individual parts in continuing towards development, in terms of boosting the specifics around the products or services.
In order to implement the second essential element, managers must take actions to focus on the tasks that support the outcome. For example, if the Department of Defense educational division is responsible for getting teaching supplies to its teachers around the globe, at various military bases, then each task in that supports the process from front-end to back must be carried out. The third essential element of a high-performance organization fosters the building or constructing of a framework, as a firm type of anatomy. The word ‘anatomy’ is used by the authors to explain that a strong, foundational ‘skeletal’ structure of performance must be built. They aptly name the process a ‘performance anatomy’ because in reaching to deliver the highest quality of public-domain services, the institution ends up giving stellar excellence to all situations in the outcomes. New methods or ways to utilize current technologies might also be put to use. In this way, the test in helping to leverage maximum delivery further closes the gap between cost constraints and inefficiencies.
One action managers may expedite to shore up the performance framework, or ‘anatomy’ is to do one thing that he or she may not have pro-actively thought of before. That is, to first think outside of the usual box. In other words, learn to ask the pertinent questions. One such inquiry might ask: How can I use existing technology to save time, while accomplishing more? Where is the weak link in the services chain, wherein performance might be forced to improve conditions in the entire system? In this way, managers can begin to align purposes with hard and fast performance that behave like a domino-effect. Except, this domino-effect is a good one of showing increasing focus upon the public needs in your sector by demonstrating the actions so developed to make the improvements. At this stage of the third element, it is a good idea to set up or tighten up the efficiencies in qualitative or quantitative measurement tool applications.
Question #3: Deming focuses much of his attention on “the system,” so why is this important?
While it may be true that many organizational management philosophies and theories focus upon charismatic leadership, or the accrual of more budgetary coffers, Deming held a core belief regarding the importance of “the system.” One way to understand why this concept of his is so important, first demands that one understands the principles and a bit of historical evidence behind the man, in the first place. As the common saying goes: No man is an island. In other words, no one person can accomplish what an organization is designed to do. If you think about it, an organization is somewhat like an organism. The human body, for example is comprised and made up of systems. The blood and circulatory system, the respiratory system, the nervous system, and so forth all work and function seamlessly together. Obviously, and apparently Deming knew this to be equally true of efficiently running organizations. What is particularly useful in this portion of the analysis, is to carve an understanding garnered from Deming’s own book, “The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education.” This bright man and PhD achiever in mathematical physics understood that “the system” is organic.
This is the reason why he focused so adamantly upon the concept. Deming composes the four elements of the system as correlated to each other, involving: (a) appreciation for system, (b) knowledge pertaining to variables, (c) theory of knowledge, and (d) psychology (Deming, 1993, p. xv). Oddly enough, it may appear a bit surprising or unusual that psychology would be included into the mix of four parts, but Deming believes that management should never be ‘business-as-usual’ but a forum in which the players are motivated to transform processes – and therefore, outcomes. One key reason why Deming’s idea of a system is so radically important, is that its concept drives a re-thinking in how management and operations should work in the first place. Also, it is very important because this collective of Deming’s theory and outlook can be applied widely across so many vital public organizations that are representative of big industry, including education and government, just as the title of his book suggests. These concepts alone, can change regions, nations, industries, and the entire gamut of technological advances in terms of how public institutions conduct their business.
Just as one suspects, W. Edwards Deming questions that any charismatic leader can make an assurance of better lives, or any other single element of management aspects. Knowledge can lead the way, according to Deming and good old-fashioned know-how because it can get the best job done in the right way, systematically. Deming states, in light of the new age of incessant digitalization of flowing information that “We ship out, for dollars, iron ore, partially refined, aluminum, nickel, copper, coal, all nonrenewable. We have been wasting our natural resources, and worse, as we shall see, destroying our people,” asking then, “How does the United States stand? How is the United States doing in respect to balance of trade?” (p. 3). Some may consider these pointed, yet pertinent questions to be hard-pressed to answer. But the rhetorical value of asking such questions further advances the idea that management acting with knowledge, can do far better than neglecting intelligence altogether.
Obviously, the average person can see the benefit in acting smartly, instead of with stupidity, and Deming is certainly no fool. It is very important to interject at this juncture, that Deming does not dismiss the need for leaders. He just believes it to be unwise to place all the element of managerial and organizational success, into the single basket of sole reliance upon them. According to Deming, leaderships must harness a great responsibility in directing the tides of better education, in terms of improvements and innovation. But the main factor in focusing upon his notion of “the system” entails knowledge, psychology, variation, and an appreciation for systems. If you think about it, those who are endeavoring to earn an educational degree, first you investigated the requirements of the tasks involved. After the consideration of the human capital efforts required, perhaps you examined how much financial input would be needed. From there, the person perhaps explored how he or she might sustain themselves with the basics of survival for themselves and their families, while attending classes, and so on. You get the idea. In other words, Deming would be the last management and organizational business theorist to suggest any insalubrious or faulty method for the accomplishment of goals. That would be silly indeed, from his perspective.
In terms of considering how these concepts might change our thinking, it may be useful to engage a deeper understanding of Deming as a man, both philosophically and ethically. In a world that often appears so devoid of it, yes, ethics still counts. Deming believes in quality, which in a key way undergirds his understanding of how management practices must be transformed. According to information available on his own institute’s website, Deming lists seven deadly ‘sins’ – if you will – of things which might perpetrate diseases within the management structure. He includes: (1) Lack of consistency of purpose, in terms of planning market place viability for products/services, (2) Emphasizing the short-term quick buck, or goal, (3) Evaluation of ‘merit’ performances, as in annual reviews, (4) Job hopping, (5) Only using figures to evaluate management quality, (6) Overly high medical costs, and (7) Excessive liability costs, instigated by lawyers with expensive retainer fees (“Seven Deadly Diseases of Management”). Peruse a short review and analysis, and you can easily see how changed thought patterns among employees and the role of management actually does become transformed.
For instance, take the first deadly disease of inconsistency in purpose, failing to plan and lacking any sensible forecast in marketability and viable opportunity. In other words, it would be sheer foolishness to prepare to spend organizational efforts without evaluating the climate. Is the timing right? Does the product or service make sense? The second deadly faux pas in management, Deming calls to mind the unethical practice of greed. While it may be true that he does not use the words “greed” or “ethics” the idea still remains that the short-term goal, or quick profits approach is a loser. It is not only inefficient, but this outlook and attitude will kill employee morale, and not only that. Soon, they may all be out of a job. The next two principles that annihilate management are closely correlated. Management personnel seriously need to consider them. Merit performances do not inspire motivation among employees, and job-hopping does not instill loyalty or provide enough time to establish anything worthwhile. One might well wonder how many employees have dreaded the annual reviews, or just the opposite – looked forward to them because they were related to the boss, or kissed butt the whole year in anticipation of getting that coveted raise. See the problem?
At the end of the day, Dr. Deming truly respects a profound knowledge base, as a systematic approach which establishes a framework from which management can build, create, and transform whatever needs transforming along the way. When management applies Deming’s ‘System of Profound Knowledge’ it can thrive because for one thing, it is doing so intelligently. Knowledge obviously must be applied to situations in figuring out the best cost incentives, reductions in wastage, staff issues, by simultaneously helping to ensure that everybody so involved should win. You can simply use common sense to understand how job-hopping would have little to profit in this Deming-way of commitment to build something of quality while cultivating customer loyalty. Satisfaction among workers can co-exist with the ultimate goal of profitability, in Deming’s worldnot a bad place to be, eh?
Deming, W. (1993). The new economics for industry, government, education. Cambridge, MA:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study.
National Association of Development Organizations – NADO. (2011). Key characteristics of
High performing organizations (& people) [Data file]. Retrieved from
Price, M., & Mores, W. (2011). Building high performance government through Lean Six Sigma:
A leader’s guide to creating speed, agility, and efficiency. New York: McGraw-Hill.
The W. Edwards Deming Institute. (2015). The seven deadly diseases of management [Data file].
Retrieved from https://www.deming.org/theman/theories/profoundknowledge
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