Managing Performance

Within the Systematic Management model the intention is that, in the first instance, performance is managed locally within the processes that deliver that performance. The reason for this is that local management are in the best place to understand and manage that performance - to balance improvement against exigencies. Delegating this responsibility however does not absolve senior management from the responsbility of ensuring that the separate process teams are effective in working separately and together to fulfil their individual and collective goals.

The challenge of managing performance at the top level is one of maintaining progress whilst ensuring ownership remains deployed, and to meet this challenge requires a focus on the process of management rather than the detail of it.

The tools shown on the panel reflect some of the ways in which management can meet this challenge:

Double Loop Learning is a concept extensively promoted by Chris Agyris as an essential component of the Learning Organisation. In simple terms it is about monitoring our standard responses to problems, and looking at how our learning (problem solving, thinking) processes can be improved to make them more effective. This reflects the essence of the role of the the top-team vis-a-vis process teams - one of looking at the effectiveness of their thinking processes and helping them to find ways to make them more (or more consistently) effective - a meta-perspective on their systems of working and patterns of thinking.

The Double Loop Learning theory is worked out in practice through what is refered to on the panel as Systematic Assurance of Performance. This involves a practical adoption through the systematic model - which is explained in more detail here, and in this slide set (2.6 MB). In practical terms, the top team's role is to reconfirm the purpose and philosophy (targets) of the organisation, to review performance against these (predict), to isolate shortfalls to process deficiencies, to review and empower the relevant process team's approach to these (people), and then to see how all of this systematic approach could be improved still further (perfect).

The Integrated Meeting Process is the practical means by which Systematic Assurance of Performance is achieved. It is explained in some detail in a slide set (254 KB) and session plan (153 KB) which can be used to introduce and manage such a meeting. The structure of the meeting is one of reviewing top level performance against what is needed/expected, and then looking for the reason for any deficiencies within existing process issues (which should be already being addressed). Where deficiencies are not explained, or being effectively addressed by a process team, the top team will adopt its 'double loop' responsibility, and do what it needs to to fix/improve the learning process - more often then not this involves coaching a process team on their local management process, but can sometimes lead to new insights into the QFD.

Methodical Review is a simple tool by which the top-team can reflect on and improve its own performance. It is simply an opportunity at the end of the meeting for people to consider what worked well within the meeting and what could have been improved. It works effectively as a simple open question, but occassionally it benefits from a bit more structure (16 KB) to encourage the team to reflect more broadly on their meeting performance.

Pages 336-354 of Managing by Design can be found in Chapter 21 which can be read as a pdf file (137 KB) by clicking the link above. Pages 398-414 can be found in Chapter 25.

Blank templates of this panel can be found in the Big Picture Storyboard file - these can be used to capture your own experiences and progress in this area (by annotating them either in PowerPoint, or as a printed panel), and then to physically cut and paste them onto the Big Picture to create your own storyboard of implementing systematic management in your organisation.

To explore another secion of the big picture, please click on the relevant area of the image below:

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