The number of books, papers, websites, videos and the like, that profess “if you do this, you will be a top performing enterprise,” are laughable. Every self-anointed guru has their sure-fire way to “perform like Apple” or alternately “perform like Google.”
Most of it is complete crap.
Why? Because reverse engineering enterprise performance is as close to impossible as you can get. There are so many factors at play in any market - much of it unknown (even unknowable) to the enterprise and it’s people - that drawing a definitive causal link between a certain action or capability and performance without considering all the potential environmental influences requires a great deal of hubris or naïveté.
Political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal factors are the first and most obvious things to consider. But then you have to account for small decisions made throughout the enterprise, competitive actions, consumer sentiment, micro trends and even luck and probability.
Wait, you have the one and only algorithm that factors all these attributes in and has been proven to be right 100% of the time? Uh huh. Maybe you should try predicting the weather with it. Because that’s just about the complexity of the challenge we’re talking about.
We don’t live in a “ceteris paribus” kind of world where you can isolate enterprise performance in lab conditions. Nothing is ever equal. And given the speed and ferocity of our current markets, it isn’t getting any easier.
So, how can I write in my title that there is something that can indisputably improve enterprise performance? Because while we can’t effectively isolate performance at the enterprise level in active markets, we can isolate performance at the team and individual level.
Does your company rely on people to generate it’s profits? Then you need to consider the conditions you are creating for your people and teams. Your job as a leader or manager is to continuously improve the conditions for individuals and teams and the development of their capabilities so the enterprise can perform better.
That is the one thing, that indisputably, drives enterprise performance. Establishing the preconditions and conditions for others to succeed. Helping your people do the most important things well. Of course, that "one" thing is comprised of many when you crack it open.
Yes, as leaders you need to make a call on what the most important things are, and that isn’t easy. And there may not be any roadmaps for that part.
But then it’s up to you to create the conditions where your people can excel. And there is plenty of good evidence to follow when it comes to creating high performance conditions. However, there is a good chance you might need a bit of a refresher in this area, as the science has improved vastly in the past 15 years.
Much like our understanding of everything else.