Today’s business climate is more complex and more challenging than ever before. Even small businesses, non-profits, and government agencies face issues that historically affected only the largest international corporations.
Internal and external stakeholders demand not only high performance, but also transparency into business operations. Contemporary risks and requirements are numerous, ever-changing, and fast to impact the organization. And, if that were not enough, the costs of addressing risks and requirements are spinning out of control. In short, the status quo for many organizations is neither sustainable nor acceptable. For some, their very lives are at risk.
So how do we address this growing web of issues? By adopting a vision of Principled Performance — a point of view and approach to business that helps organizations reliably achieve objectives while addressing uncertainty and acting with integrity.
Think for a minute about your organization in the same way you might view a living organism. It can be healthy; it can get sick; and, with the right support, it can recover from illness and return to a healthy state. It can be marginally functional, or it can be strong, agile, and resilient.
Then think about what is necessary for life in the organism or for the organization. In the organism, it starts with amino acids — commonly referred to as the building blocks of life. Protein is 100% amino acids… and protein regulates nearly every biochemical reaction in the body. Our neurotransmitters, hormones and muscles are made of the 21 amino acids that support life. And RNA and DNA require amino acids, so they are necessary for our genes to function properly. All of these systems need to operate in an integrated and harmonized way, and they can be enhanced and have greater success with good nutrition, effective exercise and a non-toxic environment.
For the organization, it’s not so different. For it to live and succeed there are many functions that must operate together; from core business units such as governance, finance, production, and sales to adjunct areas like performance management, risk management, internal control, compliance, and audit. And they all must use the same data, but in different ways, just as functions of the body all use the same 21 amino acids in different combinations. And yet, despite the need to integrate and harmonize in support of the health and success of organizations, many mange these activities in disparate departments with little if any cross-functional communication Even worse, in others, these activities are not really managed at all; they are literally untouched by modern business process improvement techniques.
Principled Performance, the healthy and vigorous state of being that ensures life and enables success for an organization, can only be achieved by integrating and orchestrating information and functions that, in many organizations, are fragmented and siloed, and supporting them with strong communication, effective technology, and development of the desired ethical culture.
It’s not enough to aggressively move toward established objectives without consideration of the boundaries of laws, social mores, and uncertainties that arise with regard to potential risks and rewards. Nor can the management of risk, compliance, and ethical conduct be separated from the objective-seeking activity, any more than an organism’s muscles function independent of its neurotransmitters or hormonal system.
The successful attainment of Principled Performance requires a holistic view that addresses the governance, management, and assurance of performance, risk, and compliance; each with consideration of the other. Just as amino acids are the building blocks of life, so too are the people, processes, and technologies in every organization. And in the way that amino acids underlie critical functions of the living organism that must operate together in harmony, with seamless communication, so too must these building blocks of the organization. Only then will it not only survive, but do so in a state of Principled Performance.