Performance Transition & Transformation

In almost areas of activity, a number of ‘states of being’ relating to the current level of performance of that activity can be identified and defined. As a simple example, we could define various performance levels based on the time taken to complete a full marathon. Those who can achieve a certain threshold time would be considered world-class athletes; others – according to the time they typically run - would be defined as being at some other performance level. These ‘states of being’ or performance levels (and especially the associated definitions) form a basic model of performance measurement and improvement.

For a marathon runner, targets could be set to move from one level to another (across a level boundary). A performance improvement plan could be set for the athlete (involving changes to coaching, practice regime, diet, etc) and, assuming the athlete is successful in moving to the next level, a performance transition is achieved. Athletes who move rapidly across two or more level boundaries could be said to have undergone a performance transformation.

In business, a similar concept applies. Most companies aspire to be ‘world-class’ in whatever they do. Exhibiting world-class performance is thus the state of being (or performance level) aspired to … and a number of other (lower) levels can be defined. Here is a generic representation of this concept.

Step 4 - World Class performance

Step 3 - continuous improvement - pockets of good practice

Step 2 - Basic measures and controls in place

Step 1 - Little evidence of good practice

A powerful model of performance transition and transformation can be achieved for any sphere of activity by;

· Setting a number of ‘states of being’ or levels (typically 3 – 5)

· Defining the key attributes of each level

· Identifying performance indicators representative of each level

This sets the basic model – which can be drawn diagrammatically like the generic model above. This helps with communication and understanding – the model works when all those affected by it understand it.

The next stage is to identify ‘transition activities’ – what might/must the organisation (department or team) do to move across a level boundary to the next level – and ‘transition support’ – what might/must be put in place to make the transition possible or easier.

The real key, of course, is the diagnosis of current performance and the current place of an organisation, department or team within the model so that they understand their current state and the ‘journey’ they must make over one or more level boundaries. The final, important piece of the jigsaw is to identify the capacity of the organisation, department or team to make the required journey.

The model – and the process of transition and transformation – is very simple in concept. The keys to success in applying this concept and making the desired transitions and transformations are:

  • Creating definitions of the various ‘states of being’ which are relevant to the organisation … and create real desire to move ‘up’
  • Creating Self-awareness … letting organisations self-diagnose or validate an external diagnosis
  • A Facilitator – not an expert or ‘consultant’ (we want the organisation to work out solutions; the job of the facilitator is to guide them through an appropriate process)
  • A mix of training, development, self-development and team development.


Productivity is my 'bag' ... it is what I know about. I am President of the World Confederation of Productivity Science - and Director of the National Productivity Centre in the UK - go to this site for some good free resources and some (paid for but low price) e-learning on productivity. I also edit the International Journal of Productivity & Performance Management. My views on productivity and on learning (which I think are related) are su...

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