Go On. Be A Tiger. .. Or Should You Just Stop Being Sick

Go on. Be a Tiger. That’s the advice from Accenture, the global consultants promising High Performance. Delivered. It’s not a suggestion on how you should play golf. Rather it’s a suggestion on how you should run your company. Accenture features a picture of a cheeta, the fastest mammal, on its website, so it’s quite clear where they’re coming from.

Is that good advice? Either in golf or in running your company. The implication is that your performance is already pretty good and you should be looking for ways to fine-tune it so as to play golf like Tiger Woods. Well the majority of golf players know that really isn’t the nature of the problem. Equally in running a business most companies require something more basic than just tuning performance.

Another major consulting group, Booz Allen Hamilton, seems to have a more realistic picture (PDF file) of the state of affairs. Between December 2003 and November 2005, Booz Allen Hamilton surveyed over 30,000 individuals around the world about the organizations they work for. What did they find? Most organizations are ?unhealthy,? meaning they cannot convert strategy into action. The most common impediment to execution is a ?passive-aggressive? organization in which everyone says all the right things .. and does none of them.

Represented in the data set are 23 industries, 100 countries, and eight internal departments/functions. Respondents visited a website, www.orgdna.com, and answered 19 questions on decision rights, information, motivators, and organizational structure. In addition, nearly 20,000 more surveys were completed by individuals at Booz Allen Hamilton clients in the corporate, government, and not-for-profit sectors. Less than a third of the 30,000 respondents who filled out surveys on the Booz Allen Hamilton public website reported traits and behaviors consistent with a ?healthy? organization. More than half the survey responses resulted in an ?unhealthy? profile for their company. In other words, by a margin of nearly 2-to-1, respondents declare that their own organizations are sick.

Which approach is right for your organization: the Accenture way or the Booz Allen Hamilton way? Are you fit enough to need a professional coach or so sick that you need a doctor? Is your company one of the fewer “healthy” companies that can work on tuning its performance? .. or does your company, like many companies, first need to work on stopping being sick? You’ll need to follow very different approaches, depending on where you’re starting from.

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