Improving Performance (HOW TO MANAGE THE WHITE SPACE ON THE ORGANIZATIONAL CHART) By Geary A. Rummler and Alan P. Brache Published by Jossey-Bass 1990 My criterion for outstanding books is: 1) They are always within arms reach. 2) I have read them several times and every time I highlight different phrases or concepts. 3) They really aren’t for reading, but studying. 4) I put something to practice that I have learned. Improving Performance is one of those books! Over the years it has offered many practical applications. For example, the description on analyzing cross functional work flows to identify areas for performance improvement has been invaluable. The majority of the book is made up of a detailed explanation of a 3 x 3 matrix: PERFORMANCE NEEDS Goals Organization Process Job/Performer Strategy Customer Requirements Job Standards Design Structure Effectiveness/Efficien cy Job Design Management Resource Allocation Interfaces Human Performance Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the above table. The authors do a superb job of mixing case studies, tables, worksheets, summaries, and suggested measures to drive home their points. The nine variables make up the Performance Improvement Management System. In addition, they have developed a set of questions for each variable that can guide the reader through their own organization and development of a strategy for improvement. I found the process section especially valuable. Several concepts are introduced that at the time of the book’s introduction (1990) were ahead of their time: • • • • • • Process (an activity with inputs and outputs) yields results (be they good or bad). An organization is only as good as its processes. Most organizations approach the task of improving performance through focusing on departmental efforts. Not enough attention is paid to interaction between departments. The boundaries of departments/functions provide the greatest source for process improvement. By using process-mapping techniques, an organization can see internal customer and supplier relationships. Process improvement projects need a process owner who can work across functional areas. If you are interested in developing an organizational approach to performance improvement, I recommend Improving Performance as a guide to assist you in your efforts.