Closing the strategy and people performance gap
It all starts with insights
An interview with Ron Schiff, founder and CEO of strategy survey platform, eValue to discuss how to help organisations drive culture, engagement and results.
You describe eValue as a tool that links strategy and people. Can you expand on this?
Ron: I often cite a Fortune 100 headline that claims that more than 90% of organisations don’t track their key performance indicators. Also, that only 10% of organisational strategies are ever successfully executed. Kaplan and Norton, of the Balanced Scorecard, maintain that relevant and prompt feedback is vital in the execution of strategy.
However, one of the biggest challenges facing business is the overwhelming amount of data to process when identifying and shortlisting priority areas for improvement.
What is needed, really, is an information-gathering tool that links its content with the organisation’s objectives and goals, providing a systemic view of what is working, and which areas require improvement.
Only a small percentage of traditional surveys leverage an organisation towards fulfilling strategic priorities because they tend to focus, either on things like job satisfaction or work-life balance and other respondent-centric elements, or they don’t link what is assessed in the survey to explicit business objectives.
Best-in-class organisations are now insisting that their surveys have a strategic focus in linking employee experiences and engagement levels, with business performance.
As a strategic survey, eValue pre-aligns metrics to business goals. And it does this by highlighting the priority issues, as well as the back-burners. A famous military general once said, “Don’t tell me about the hills and trees on the battlefield – rather tell me which ones are important”.
Would you say that the depth and granularity of the data provided by an eValue survey helps eliminate the unconscious, cognitive bias that characterises C-suite decision-making?
Ron: I read once that in project management, prevailing wisdom prescribes the addition of workers to a project that is seen to be lagging. However, in practice, this tactic may slow down development. This example – of cognitive management bias – was commented on by Stephen Hawking who said, “the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.”
So, while high-level feedback, such as the Net Promotor Score, may serve its purpose as a primary indicator of progress and loyalty, it falls short in answering the “Why” question behind the statistics. Questions like, “why are sales down?”, “why is there a distribution bottleneck?” etc.
eValue provides the “why” behind the “what” and adopts a more granular approach in understanding the perception of products, services, lines of business, systems and resources – much like the Balanced Scorecard – all linked back to specific strategic business goals.
As an example of what I mean by the “why” behind the “what”, I remember the “Aha” moment when a client in the motor industry identified a strategic priority that had emerged from the quantitative survey feedback and supporting qualitative text comments provided by eValue. Up until that point, this client had simply not seen the problem – his one-sided perspective had made him overlook it.
However, biases are often too strong to be overcome through feedback alone. Management needs to learn how to suspend its preconceived ideas, concepts and theories, and actually listen to its people.
eValue’s brand positioning – helping business leaders to make better decisions – stems from the latest findings in behaviour science. Can you tell us more?
Ron: I find this emerging discipline fascinating. Since the culture of an organisation reflects the aggregate mindset of its people, I believe that sustainable change really takes root when individuals change their thinking patterns, beliefs and behaviours – not only about their jobs, but about themselves.
However, one of the greatest challenges seems to be the transformation of group behaviour and attitudes. We know how challenging it can be to change a structure or process. But when it comes to changing behaviour, we encounter the most complicated thing in the world – human beings. There is nothing more complex, capable and creative, but also potentially conflicted than our own species.
Neuroscience tells that what we experience (the culture, the people, the environment) affects our emotions, which in turn impacts what we feel. And what we feel influences our thinking and, ultimately, our behaviour.
So, because most of what leads to our behaviour happens in our guts, hearts and brains, the more we understand and apply behaviour-related processes that can rewire our organisational brains, the better.
It all begins with personal awareness and an eValue survey can stimulate group awareness of an organisation’s strategic objectives and key operating requirements.