Performance Consulting - a descriptive metaphor

A number of people have asked me to describe what performance consulting is and how it might relate to the Square Wheels toolkits. The linkages can be quite interesting:

Picture people who have been involved in pushing and pulling a wagon that is rolling on Square Wheels with a cargo of round wheels. Simply, the current systems and procedures and the like DO work, but they don't work smoothly. And inside the wagon are a wide variety of ideas about what can be done to make improvements.

One paradox is that people are too busy to stop and step back and see what is obvious to other observers. These others often include customers and other departments.Muscle Building

Now, imagine that the pushers and pullers are asked to join a health club where they get workout schedules, dietary information and the like and that, after a few weeks of this training and support, they are healthier and stronger.

Building personal resources is what most of us do within our organizations. We work to develop people so that they are more competent, effective and productive. This is good!

Now, imagine these same people go back to the workplace CONTINUING to push and pull the SAME wagon. This is "training.*" Training does have an impact on one's ability to do the job in regards to improved productivity or similar issues. But can you hear a Thump Thump?

* Training refers to traditional class-room training where there is skill improvement but little influence on the realities of the workplace. Trainers tend to be isolated, although they may be very knowledgeable about organizational realities. Systems and Processes are turfs of other individuals

Performance consulting, on the other hand, often dis-un-empowers the training staff to look at the organization in a more holistic way.

Performance consultants bring the objectivity and perspective to the workplace and can observe, identify issues and problems, facilitate discussions of opportunities, and provide the training (when necessary) to support organizational performance.

They become the outside resource to the people in the workplace. They offer skills and resources.

Back in the late 1970s, there were a lot of people doing this kind of consulting. Then, performance management died a slow death and organizations became focused on all sorts of other initiatives.

It is good to see training departments move their focus off "head counts" and back onto the issues and opportunities around improving results. It is about measurement systems, feedback to people doing the job and similar factors.

click here for an article on Dis-Un-Empowerment and Managing Roadblocks

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