Dutch Scholar Jan den Breejen noted in a recent blogcast that what  is needed to have a High Performance Organization are new behaviors, like:

  • openness (sharing information and speaking your mind…even when you disagree)
  • readiness for action (not just talking about it, doing what you have planned)
  • entrepreneurship (seeing opportunities and experimenting or even taking risks)
  • collaboration (communicate well, allow others to do their thing, facilitate colleagues)
  • achieving results, getting things done!

Combining daily work with learning these new behaviors can enhance commitment and employee engagement. In these times of unpredictable and heavy competition, organizations need employees who can handle complexity, dynamics at a high pace and uncertainty. We need highly skilled employees but also collaboration, creativity and results-oriented working. The only way to develop the new behaviors in today’s busy and unpredictable workplace, is learning by doing. You can’t control this in a school curriculum; you have to use trial and error to see what works in your organization.


FOUR QUALITIES OF HIGH-PERFORMANCE INDIVIDUALS:  A recent meta-research in Harvard (Driven, 2001), shows strong verification of earlier theories we have seen that humans need to develop four drivers to survive:

  1. The drive to meet physical needs
  2. The drive for security
  3. The drive to learn and grow
  4. The drive to belong and transcend

Based on the four behavior drivers, people develop these competencies:

  1. Business & goal-oriented competencies (wanting to win, market culture)
  2. Planning & Procedure-oriented competencies (wanting security, hierarchy)
  3. Self-organizing & Creative competencies (learning by trial and error and innovation)
  4. People & Motivation competencies (wanting to collaborate and relate)

The first two competencies are mostly present by the nature of the organization: the personal comfort zone or your core competencies. The other competencies are often “uncomfortable” and have to be learned and modeled. High-performance individuals are strong in all four and are able to switch between the four competencies depending on the situation.


In response to the Taylorian division of labor and the 19th century industrial management, today’s highly educated professionals working in unpredictable, complex and fast-changing environments, seek corporate cultures that are based on self-organizing and creative competencies (learning by trial and error, taking risks without fear and innovating) and People and Motivation competencies (wanting to collaborate, relate and transcend). They need professional freedom beyond narrow job descriptions as well as accountability to achieve results on time (instead of waiting for permission), they need trial and error, and the freedom to excel and deviate when necessary, while providing their complex services and products and satisfying customer needs. If they are true professionals, they will like the challenge to develop all four competencies to be ready for whatever comes their way.


Comfort zones are less and less likely to endure – and they get smaller all the time. Thinking and acting out of the box is the new normal.




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