IMPLEMENTATION: The Pathway™ to Sustainable Performance Improvement

This is a transcript of REPSradio.com Episode 015. To listen to the Podcast or download resources, Click Here.

In 2007, I sat across from Bill, the Director who had made previously made a decision to improve performance using an approach no one had heard of before.

I was calling it, “Practicing Perfection®”.

There was no historical data, no case studies available.

Bill made the decision to go forward based on his ‘gut’, as well as through many conversations and a “culture profile” generated by…me.

His efforts (and those of the members of his division) showed a type of success beyond any seen before. This wasn’t a ‘program’- it was a new way of thinking and doing that honestly transformed the culture of his division of the organization.

He said to me, “Okay, Tim, where do we go from here?”

Our company was brand new. In fact, at the time, PPI consisted of me…and my wife.

I quickly drew a sketch of their next steps and pushed it across his desk.

Five years later, I was a key presenter at the first Human Performance Conference for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, more affectionately referred to as “NERC”.

NERC is an oversight organization. They refer to themselves as, “a not-for-profit international regulatory authority whose mission is to assure the reliability and security of the bulk power system in North America.”

In the world of electrical transmission and non-nuclear generation, they are the “regulator”.

If you’re in an industry with any type of regulation, you know- when the regulator speaks, you pay attention.

This was their first conference on human performance. Organizations across North America sent senior leaders and mid-level implementers to discover what the regulator was up to now, what the new requirements would be, and most important, HOW to comply.

I was joined by a cadre of presenters- most of them very smart thinkers in fields related to human performance.

The conference lasted three days.

I had the opportunity to present three times- each presentation being a piece of the human performance ‘puzzle’.

During casual conversations with attendees during evening adult beverage time, I kept hearing a consistent message: “We’re hearing a lot of great stuff coming from the stage…BUT- but we still don’t have a clue what to go home and DO!”

“How do we put this together? What are we supposed to DO?”

I went back to my office and put together the Human Performance Blueprint™. A strategic ‘roadmap’ showing the steps, outcomes, and segments/processes needed to achieve sustainable improvement in human performance.

We rolled the blueprint out with a webinar shortly after the conference, and have made it available free of charge to anyone who wants it ever since.

There’s a download link at the bottom of the webpage for this Episode. You can grab your copy and print it out any time you like.

In the summer of 2015, my first book, 6-Hour Safety Culture, was published.

You may be familiar with it. I trust you’ve read it. If not, as I guess you can imagine- I highly recommend it.

6-Hour Safety Culture details the history of the approach we call “Practicing Perfection®”. It includes insights and “how to” instructions on everything we’d learned and developed to that point for improving human and organizational performance.

Since then- we’ve continued to learn and grow.

Through the past 11 years of experience working with clients all over the world, we discovered something pivotally important.

First, most large organizations tend to separate various aspects of performance improvement.

There are the Quality folks, the Safety folks, LEAN/Six Sigma production and efficiency folks- tending to operate in siloes relative to one another.

This can even generate direct conflict, especially by the time nuanced priorities reach the frontline where the work actually happens (for example…safety and production).

And over the past few years “human performance” has become a focus for many.

Unfortunately, most are tending to consider human performance only as a ‘program’ for improving safety…or for making fewer mistakes.

To be VERY clear- human performance is NOT a program. Programs have a beginning and an end. They’re typically focused on a portion of an organization (such as the frontline workers)

Human performance includes everyone in the organization (that is, providing they’re human). It’s all-pervasive, everywhere…with every choice, decision made, and action taken.

Human Performance impacts EVERYTHING.

In the fall of 2016, I wrote a Special Report detailing how human performance lies at the Core of all organizational performance. Whether your focus is Reliability, Efficiency, Productivity, or Safety- the key to sustainable performance lies with a proper focus on your Core- Human Performance!

If you haven’t read it, there’s a download link on the webpage for this Episode.

Following publication of the REPS Report, the great minds of our team came together.

Our collection of thought and experience culminated in a simple diagram clearly revealing the SOLUTION to any type of organizational performance improvement.

We decided to call it, “The Pathway™” because…that’s what it is- a diagram illustrating flow through five simple steps for HOW to quickly and easily achieve SUSTAINABLE results.

And I’m going to talk you through this right now.

There’s a link below for downloading your copy of The Pathway™.

I recommend you pause this now, download it, and follow along as I walk you through.

If you can’t download and print right now- perhaps you’re driving, riding your bike…working out…no problem. Take mental notes. Download it when you can. You may then want to re-listen to this portion of the podcast.

I promise- it’ll be well worth your time.

But be warned- this approach, which has delivered error reductions of up to 87.5%, best-ever safety records and run times, and coincident 80% reductions in bargaining unit grievances, turns traditional approaches to improving performance…likely some of the things you’re currently doing- upside down.

Okay. Let’s do this…

As I mentioned earlier, The Pathway™ involves five simple steps, progressing in order. And approaching them in order is critical.

We’ll be progressing from WHY (your starting point), to WHAT, to HOW, to identifying your true GOAL. I’ll then reveal the organizational OUTCOME of achieving that goal.

The first thing you must do is to come to terms with your WHY.

WHY are you doing this in the first place?

When I’m talking face-to-face with senior leaders, I have them do a little exercise we call the Transformation Conversation. We also do this in our LEADERSHIP and CERTIFICATION Courses. The first part of the exercise has them think through where they’d like to be 12 months down the road relative to whatever performance they’re focused upon.

This makes for great conversation and really brings senior leadership teams together. It also reveals (to me) their level of awareness and maturity when it comes to improving performance.

Elementary answers to this question include metrics such as KPIs, meeting regulatory requirements, and moving the OSHA Recordable number to a certain place. These are elementary because they are merely…results.

More enlightened responses (as I like to call them) indicate improvements in culture, attitudes, sense of ownership- the elements of organizational performance that DELIVER the results.

Collectively, these discussions always lead to a true understanding of WHY they’re exerting efforts to improve performance in the first place.

So many waste so much time, energy, and money pursuing a half-baked piece of the performance improvement puzzle because they didn’t take the time to truly understand their WHY before making a decision.

To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re headed, any road will take you there.”

Once you truly understand your WHY, your journey to exceptional outcomes moves onto the second step- proper focus on the CORE of all performance- human performance.

This is where you focus upon WHY your team members (at all levels) do WHAT they do the WAY they do it. Remember- “human performance” is NOT just a set of tools and requirements, and it does NOT just apply to the frontline workers. It applies to YOU and to EVERY member of the team (no matter how senior, experienced, or ‘all-knowing’)…ALL the time.

If you’d like more info on proper understanding of human performance, listen to REPSradio.com Podcast Episode 7, titled “What the heck is human performance?!”, you can also watch a quick video, titled “What is Human Performance” on the PPIWEB YouTube Channel, and there’s a detailed explanation in Chapter One of 6-Hour Safety Culture.

Once you’re focused on the CORE, we move from the WHAT to the HOW.

This is the simple four-part systematic approach for scaling your efforts across the organization.

In the world of Practicing Perfection®, we call this the “Human Performance Factor”, or “HU Factor®”.

It involves four discreet elements, and is literally HOW you make all of this happen- HOW you get from where you are to where you want to be (and do so in a way that’s SUSTAINABLE).

The four elements include Proactive Accountability®, Tools, Engagement, and Learning.

Proactive Accountability® is team member internalization- not to simply be “accountable” for past actions and behaviors, but to take ownership. To actively seek ways to make things better…and then to take actions to make it happen.

To learn more about Proactive Accountability®, watch Video 13 in the “Future of Performance Improvement” series entitled, “How can I get Workers to Be More Accountable?” (and by the way, this will likely leave you with a whole new perspective on the concept of “accountability”).

Additionally, all of Chapter Five in 6-Hour Safety Culture is devoted to understanding Proactive Accountability®, and how to grow it within your team members.

Again- access and download links are provided at the bottom of the webpage for this Episode.

The Tools element of the HU Factor® involves ALL of the tools you are using to run your organization, to get work done, and to promote desired team member behaviors.

First, this is NOT just a handbook or bulleted points on a piece of lanyard jewelry. I’ve always been intrigued when senior leaders think they’ve ‘checked the box’ on human performance by providing (maybe) an hour of training, handing out such ‘tools’ and expecting performance to improve.

The thing is- ALL of the tools I previously mentioned must move toward simplicity and coherency. They must be easily accessible by everyone. Conflicts and confusion must be removed.

Sounds like a daunting task, doesn’t it?

Well, keep listening, because when you continue along The Pathway™ you will see how this is VERY doable, is achievable in a relatively short period of time- and at very little cost.

There’s a bulleted checklist of requirements for tools to support your next-level performance on Page 74 of 6-Hour Safety Culture. In addition, if you don’t currently have a next-generation set of Error Elimination Tools™, PPI will be happy to send you a sample copy of the Error Elimination Tools™ handbook. I’ve provided a link at the bottom of the webpage for this Podcast.

The third element of the HU Factor® is- Engagement.

This is where you grow alignment across and throughout the organization.

In the world of PPI, we call it, “Principle-Based Engagement™.” The intent is to align team member perspectives and behaviors with organizational Core Principles.

Aligning with Principles keeps things simple. After all- how many Core Principles do you have? Likely, it’s just a handful.

This provides a simple, coherent, consistent baseline from which everything else- decisions, choices, actions, and behaviors- emanate.

Furthermore, running your organization based upon Principles allows people with differing values to work together effectively.

Part of the engagement process is what PPI refers to as “Principle-Based Mentoring™”. If you’re familiar with observation & coaching programs (perhaps you even have one), this turns that old-school approach upside down.

Chapter Nine in 6-Hour Safety Culture is devoted to Engagement. It includes the “Core Four” recipe- a simple four-step process for providing feedback while growing relationships and aligning to “one team”.

Finally, the fourth element of the HU Factor™ is- LEARNING.

It IS important to measure. It IS important to learn.

As W. Edwards Deming said, “What gets measured gets improved.” And, as I’ve often said, what gets measured consistently improves consistently.

This being said, we need to balance with Einstein’s observation- “Not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that can be measured matters.”

Because it’s what’s ‘known’ and familiar, and because expert salespeople have done a great job of selling, many organizations place FAR too much of their performance improvement emphasis upon databases.

Remember- you need to start with the CORE- proper focus on Human Performance. Learning is only one element of the systematic approach to greatness.

Information on results is indeed important. It allows you to adjust course.

However, it’s important to recognize that all information in a database is…history. It’s already happened.

Basing your performance improvement efforts primarily on the information in a database is like trying to drive your car by looking in the rearview mirror. It’s re-active.

It’s essentially impossible to be proactive if this is how you’re basing your efforts.

If you’d like more insight into how to avoid ‘database hell’, “analoculitis”, and being lured in by the ‘shiny box’, listen to REPSradio.com Episode 9 (How to Prevent Analoculitis and ‘Rear-View Syndrome’ (RVMS)). You can also read pages 34-47 in 6-Hour Safety Culture.

When the four elements of the HU Factor™, Proactive Accountability®, Tools, Engagement, and Learning are systematically and coherently approached, this is where the ‘magic’ happens.

Do this right, and this is where you achieve your GOAL (the fourth step in The Pathway™)- Viral Accountability®.

Viral Accountability® is an environment where team member ownership, proactive actions, and positive interactions spontaneously generate continually improving outcomes.

From a leader perspective, from a performance improvement perspective, this is where what you might have previously considered a ‘dream’- actually comes TRUE.

This is your GOAL because things begin to spontaneously improve.

  • At 3:00 AM, workers are doing the ‘right thing’ because they WANT to
  • Misaligned and confusing policies and procedures get fixed
  • Relationships- both department-to-department and up-and-down- GREATLY improve
  • Choices, Actions and Behaviors align
  • Your organization, more and more, day-by-day, functions as one team
  • Reliability goes up. Efficiency continuously increases. Productivity reaches new heights. Safety achieves record levels.

AND- it’s all SUSTAINABLE.

Because the OUTCOME of following The Pathway™ is- a transformed culture.

As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, ‘excellence’ for lunch, and everything else for dinner.”

And- despite what you’ve likely heard and read from consultants and even so-called ‘experts’-

When it comes to organizations, culture change is NOT hard and it does NOT take a long time. We have the data to prove it. The Pathway™ is HOW to get there.

And those results and metrics you’re likely looking at every day? Those KPIs and metrics so important to senior leadership, regulators, and even stock holders?

This is how you achieve and exceed them- systematically, synergistically, and sustainably.

As I indicated earlier, I’ve provided a link on the webpage for this Podcast for you to download and print out your copy of The Pathway™. You can even download and printout full poster-size versions if you like.

I highly recommend you do so- and post them everywhere thinking is going on and decisions are being made relative to improving any type of performance.

Follow The Pathway™. I guarantee you’ll be VERY glad you did!

*****SPONSOR NOTE**************************************************************************

This episode of REPSradio.com has been brought to you by the Practicing Perfection Institute, home of the Human Performance Academy.

The Human Performance Academy is now pleased to announce scheduling of Human Performance LEADERSHIP™ courses throughout the year, at various locations throughout the United States.

AND, as part of this Episode, the Academy is offering a HALF-OFF coupon code for anyone downloading a copy of The Pathway™.

Simply follow the links, complete your download, and you’ll immediately receive an email with your 50% OFF Code.

This Code can be used for as many members of your organization as you like, for any Human Performance LEADERSHIP™ course scheduled within the next 12 months.

*****END SPONSOR NOTE********************************************************************

To wrap this up, I want to update you on the story I told you at the beginning of this Episode. In April of 2017, I had the opportunity to sit across a conference table from Bill, that same Director from 2007. Of course, his career had advanced, his responsibilities greatly expanded. We were joined by Mike, a newly-appointed senior VP.

At the time, after ten years of Bill’s organization leading the entire enterprise in metrics and KPIs- safety numbers, reliability numbers…turnover numbers, the organization was looking to dramatically expand the approach.

As Bill told me the story of the past ten years, I nearly came to tears. This was a ‘dream’ meeting for someone in my position- ten years of phenomenal documented success.

Is this sustainable? That question’s been answered and validated.

AND, as we were nearing the end of our discussion, Bill said to me, “You know, I knew this would work. It obviously has worked- but when you introduced me to The Pathway™ it finally all came together in my mind. I can now SEE how this all fits together, and why each piece is so important.”

I went to lunch at an Asian restaurant with my daughter Becky and her husband Brandon after the meeting. I was on ‘cloud nine’.

So I have a simple challenge for you with this Episode- set aside your current and old-school thinking. Grab your copy of The Pathway™ and review the other resources I’m giving you.

I’ll even challenge you to save almost a thousand bucks per person and use the Coupon offered by the Human Performance Academy for downloading The Pathway™.

Your organization (and the world) is waiting to see what YOU can achieve.

Be Bold!

Hey- by the way- please help us spread the insights in this Episode!

Use the icons below the broadcast to like, heart, give the “thumbs up”, tweet, re-post…whatever works for ya.

ALSO- use the Comments section to join the conversation! Your voice…your thoughts…might be precisely what someone else needs to hear!

Thanks a bunch!

By |2018-01-17T20:20:55+00:00January 17th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Tim Autrey is a recognized thought leader in human performance. Through his ground-breaking approach known as Practicing Perfection® and creation of the Practicing Perfection Institute (PPI), he has helped organizations around the world develop next-level leadership while enhancing safety and reducing human error.

Leave A Comment

Quick Links