20 Mar 2015

The Force Multiplier Theory – Performance Through Engagement

This idea isn’t rocket science. And whenever we tell people about this they always nod there heads in agreement and say, “absolutely,” or “we so need that.” Yet, we still see organizations struggle with this concept and fail to invest in it – but see what you think, and let us know.

There are a multitude of things any given company can do to improve performance. Better communications, new equipment, more people, different people, new software, training, acquisition, the list goes on. A majority of these things however fall into three distinct areas; Technology, Process, or People.

So here’s the theory.


Let’s make an assumption that funding is not an issue. We know, it’s not always the case, but we also know that Managers can often find funding for things when funding “doesn’t exist.” And, as with our Utility clients, when your business model is rate-case based, sometimes money isn’t an issue – your business model is to spend more on capital expansion.

If we accept this for our hypothesis, then it’s safe to say that we could buy the best technologies. Whether it is IT infrastructure, software, or the best and newest equipment for any given industry. How many times have you or a co-worker said, “if we just had this tool, we’d be so much more effective”, likely a number of times. The real question here is if you or your coworker actually obtained that piece of technology, how significantly did performance increase? How long did the increase in performance last? What would be the return on investment of that specific tool?

The same goes for process. LEAN and Six Sigma have been adopted in a multitude of ways in every industry. Process mapping and continuous improvement methodologies are light years from what they were a decade ago. If an industry is one of the few that cannot benchmark peer organizations to identify best practices, investments can be made in third party process solutions from vendors such as the Accentures, and Deloittes of the world. But again, let’s ask the same questions: With a new process or improvement effort, how significantly did performance increase? How long did the increase in performance last? What would be the return on investment of that specific effort in best practices process?

In many cases, the answers to those questions would be, incremental, short-term, not as much as expected, respectively.

So, how can you gain exponential improvements from the implementation of process and technology? How can you sustain that performance change over the long term? How can you maximize the return on investment?

We would propose that this is achieved through an engaged workforce. You can deploy the best technologies, you can implement the best processes and procedure, but without leaders and employees that are truly engaged in pursuing improvement, performance will likely only increase sporadically and not achieve the desired levels of achievement.

This is the Force Multiplier Theory – People are the critical strategic factor for sustaining performance over time, achieving the desired levels of improvement, and facilitating the organizational effectiveness that drives ROI. The chart below illustrates the possible differences in performance when addressed without, and then with people.

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 10.49.46 AM


Below is some simple data on the performance of companies with strong cultures that respectfully pursue achievement, collaboration and learning. This research is from a 300,000-person, 25 company international study found in, “All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results” Gostick & Elton, 2007 In partnership with Towers Watson as well as some safety-culture focused research done by Behavioral Science.

Performance Data

So how do you actually do this – measure and change culture to drive strategic performance?

That’s a topic for another post. Until then, give us a call and we can share a great case study on how this has played out in the real world.


Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith

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