Is it possible to identify high-performance organizations?

My definition of high-performance is the ability to consistently achieve big goals in the laziest way possible. Any organization which fits this bill would be high performance.

This is logical, sensible, and wrong.

In his books Good to Great and Build to Last, Jim Collins identified dozens of companies which were considered high-performance. Almost 30 years later, many of these companies performed much worse than average. Examples are Sony, Ford or Motorola.

Current high-performance is no guarantee for future high-performance.

What is?

The probability of future greatness is maximized by performing well on the metrics which make an organization less fragile: The ability to withstand large shocks to the system.

I have found that there is one metric which is a strong indicator of a robust organization: Its internal safety performance, indicating how many employees are hurt while working.

The reason is that safety performance is an intrinsic organizational value, rarely used for marketing to the outside world. When was the last time you bought an appliance from a company based on its outstanding internal safety record?

Other intrinsic values, such as diversity, sustainability, or quality are typically used for external marketing and communication. This makes them vulnerable to misinterpretation, exaggeration, or even fraud.

If you want to identify high-performance organizations, ignore the decoys. Study internal safety performance instead.

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