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Building a successful performance management system: processes and tools


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Any successful and developed performance management system must include the following main stages: planning, implementation, evaluation, and improvement.

Institutional performance management begins with the planning stage, which ends with the preparation of the strategic plan—a plan developed for several years that aims to bridge the gap between the current situation and the desired future vision. Determining the plan’s link with financial planning and the rest of the material, human, and technical resources and property, as well as at the planning stage there is a link with the general framework of risk management as it is necessary to determine the type of risk that could impede the implementation of the strategic objectives and how to deal with the risk during its occurrence, which requires the existence of institutional agility in leadership while dealing with it. 

At this stage, the policy development guide is adopted, which is considered one of the basic capabilities to ensure the implementation of strategic objectives and government directions. Indicators and targets must also be set because of their importance in planning, monitoring and evaluation to see what has been achieved of the strategic objectives.

The execution phase involves ensuring the plan’s successful implementation of the strategy. This is where operational action plans are developed and implemented, which include strategic initiatives and projects that ultimately lead to achieving the results of the strategic objectives and bridging the performance gap in the strategic objectives that were measured through performance indicators. This phase also involves the application of a general framework for change management, which is designed to bring about a positive shift that moves the organizational unit and organization from one state to another in order to achieve the strategic objectives in an efficient and effective manner, which may deal with changing the organizational structure, policies, programs, procedures or processes in accordance with the application of the ADKAR model criteria for change management. 

It is also possible to choose initiatives and projects (especially the strategy) from the reality of the organizational unit’s work plan, to which the concepts of change can be applied. At this stage, performance indicators are measured, the main purpose of which is to know the level of achieving the strategic goals. Therefore, on all indicators, whether strategic or operational, there are “Lead” indicators that measure efforts to achieve the goals or “Lag” indicators that measure the long-term results of the strategic goals, on all of them to contribute to achieving the strategic objectives of the organization. Any indicator that is far from achieving this should be excluded from the measurement.

Measuring performance indicators contributes to the enhancement of institutional learning, motivates employees to achieve higher levels of strategic performance, and enhances accountability and transparency in the institution. At this stage, implementation begins through the general framework of risk management in terms of identifying risk treatment options, the method of treatment, preparing a risk treatment plan, and following up on the extent of implementation of said plan.

Policies that support the realization of the strategy are applied through the preparation and development of an implementation plan that includes various resources, timetables, risk management, communication, monitoring, and evaluation. Monitoring is necessary to assess the effects of the policy so that there is a possibility to adjust the plan and methods of implementation (if required).

A policy follow-up mechanism must also be set up and this can be done by developing and measuring policy effectiveness performance indicators. Finally, at this stage, strategy governance was addressed, which is the framework for action that ensures the implementation of the strategy and the achievement of its objectives in terms of forming work teams, follow-up, review, accountability, reporting, and evaluation.

The third stage is the evaluation stage, and it includes auditing processes, which aims to provide accurate data on how to implement the main stages of the general framework for operations management by defining, designing, documenting, applying, measuring, and following up on the performance, improvement, and development of processes. Institutions can also measure the maturity of processes through several criteria, namely: strategic alignment, culture and leadership, personnel, governance, methodologies and methods, and information technology. 

They can also evaluate services through several criteria, including: linking services to strategic directions and goals, focusing on customers, defining performance standards and indicators for services to reach customer happiness, evaluating service delivery channels, measuring and evaluating customer happiness and adding value to them, and evaluating the human resources that provide services. This stage also includes evaluating indicators and targets, as well as evaluating policies and measuring their effectiveness.

The fourth and final stage is the improvement stage, and it includes reviewing and updating the strategic plan. There are two types of review and update of the plan: periodic annual review and comprehensive update of the plan after the end of the plan period of 3 years or 5 years. This stage also includes updating and improving operations, and there are 7 main steps to do so. The processes are: selecting the work team, analyzing the current process, developing indicators of the results of the process, determining the extent of process stability, determining process viability, and determining the feasibility of an improvement. 

This stage also includes the improvement of services as the mechanism for improving them depends on various improvement sources, such as suggestions, complaints, satisfaction studies, studies and analyses, the results of measuring service performance indicators, and others. As for the steps and stages of improvement, they are: describing and analyzing improvement opportunities, identifying improvement action, evaluating the priority of applying improvement action, and evaluating the possibility of applying improvement action.

And here comes the role of benchmarking, which is the process of searching for and implementing best practices that increase the rate of improvement by providing the finest models and achieving improvement goals that lead to creating outstanding performance for the organization. It is a systematic and continuous process of comparison, measurement, learning, and continuous improvement by studying different models inside or outside the entity to reach the same level or excellence by applying the developed methods based on the results of the study. Comparisons are also one of the most important drivers of change in organizations, particularly when the outputs of comparison are employed in offering initiatives and innovations that improve previous work methods or lead to unprecedented successful methods which achieve pioneering in various fields.

Finally, analysis and improvement tools must be used to analyze all the problems facing the organization, including those related to the results of performance indicators. And in addressing the cases in which analysis and improvement tools are used, some important tools in analysis were explained, such as: Pareto analysis, mind map, brainstorming, the Five Why tool, and others.

About the author: Dr. Hisham Ahmad Kayali is a Strategic & Performance Management Specialist who has worked with the Dubai municipality. He participated in the full cycle of updating Dubai Municipality’s strategic plan based on balanced scorecard (BSC) perspectives. That included linking the strategic objectives to critical success factors, key performance indicators, and initiatives for the cycles of 2010-2014, 2013-2015, and 2016-2021. He has a Phd in Economic Science at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.

How does OKR transform organizations into a high-performance culture?


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Experts define high-performance culture as a set of shared beliefs and values set up by leaders. These shared beliefs and values are then embedded and communicated through different strategies that eventually form employee perceptions, behaviors, and understanding.

All companies want their employees to arrive each day motivated, prepared, and energetic to do what it takes to make the work done. However, it’s more of an idealism than a reality. A State of the Global Workplace report from Gallup shows that only 15 percent of employees are engaged at work. Meanwhile, new research from Zenefits revealed that 63.3% of companies consider employee retention more challenging than hiring.

The pillars of a high-performance culture

Several reports and case studies emphasize the impact of motivation on employee performance. While there are means to address waning motivation, a “well-performing” company isn’t good enough. With the capacity to trade globally, and markets immersed with companies scrambling for market share, it is more critical than ever to have a distinctive, high-performance culture.

There are many frameworks to analyze high-performance culture in an organization. One example of a well-developed and data-driven framework for assessing a high-performance culture can be seen in the Organizational Health Index.

Developed by McKinsey in 2017, the Organizational Health Index (OHI) survey measures 37 individual management practices and nine outcomes against a global database of more than 1.5 million individual responses.

The pillars of a high-performance culture are:

  • Direction;
  • Innovation and learning;
  • Leadership;
  • Coordination and control;
  • Capabilities;
  • Motivation;
  • Work environment;
  • Accountability;
  • External orientation.

The role of OKRs in building a high-performance culture

Objectives and key results (OKR) is a goal-setting tool used for measuring organizational/departmental/individual objectives through challenging and ambitious key results. Extracted from the organization’s visions and missions and aligned with the department’s goals, OKR involves activities such as planning, activating, managing, and adjusting.

With OKRs, teams can cascade and align goals to the different levels of an organization, defining outcome-based key results that help verify the success of the objective. OKRs act as a guide for daily work and connect all employees to a larger purpose, which is what the organization intends to achieve.

If OKRs are perceived as more than just a goal-setting tool and instead as a communication one, it shows why the OKRs are brilliant at building a high-performance culture. The effort of achieving daily goals at the individual and team levels eventually leads to the achievement of the overall objectives at the organization level in the long run.

As a result, when implemented correctly, OKRs can help a company enable a high-performance culture and achieve far more than their team thought possible. OKRs help the organization adopts performance culture in the following ways:

OKRs provide organizations with a clear direction, coordination, control, and orientation.

Direction, coordination, control, and external collaboration play a vital role in helping organizations jump from their current state to the state they want to achieve. To guide the organization in achieving what they desire, it’s important that the organization ensures that its vision and strategic clarity are understood by the stakeholders in every layer, and while doing so, the organization must also facilitate the involvement of its employees.

OKR helps organizations align priorities and make sure everyone at every level in the organization moves towards the same goals. Employees must be given the opportunity to provide their insights when the organization decides in the next 12 months. It is recommended to start with an OKR workshop where all key stakeholders responsible for company strategy ask for and gather input from employees on what they think the top priorities should be.

Those inputs can then be aligned with the existing company strategy and broken down into three to five OKRs. The process can be done using collaborative notes and documents or even a whiteboard to ensure that collaboration and ideas are well-captured. The goal of the process is to reach an agreement on what priorities should be achieved in the following year.

The process is then followed by aligning the company OKRs with team and individual OKRs. OKRs provide teams and individuals with a clear set of directions and achievements. OKRs are also a reason to remove things that are unrelated to the scope of the objective they wanted to achieve, keeping their focus and avoiding unnecessary activities or resources.

If every team gets the opportunity to create their own OKRs that they will be working on in a particular quarter, for example, it can assure a successful OKR program while helping the organization realize its strategy and maintain its focus.

OKRs increase employees’ motivation, innovation, capabilities, and accountability.

OKRs can be used to develop a set of productive behaviors that establish an essential motivating culture. Through the process of building OKRs, employees set the outcomes they’ll achieve. These outcomes are in line with the organization’s setup that supports autonomy and motivation.

In addition, OKRs focus on outcomes over outputs. It is a way to resolve organizational problems and gives employees the flexibility to experiment, innovate, and think outside the box. It also allows a humanistic approach, rather than a systemic approach. OKRs promote positive behavior by providing continuous reflection and iteration about the organization’s goals, sharing progress updates, and keeping goals collaborative, all while observing freedom and trust.

More than just a goal-setting framework

OKRs are more than just a goal-setting framework. They enable stronger and healthier relationships within companies and support powerful dynamics in an organization that will significantly increase performance levels.

To start doing the OKRs right, companies can hire an OKR expert to start partnering with their organization or provide their managers with training. The KPI Institute’s Certified OKR Program can equip them with the right tools, knowledge, and guidance in deploying OKRs in their organizations.

How Can Artificial Intelligence Improve Departmental Performance?


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Editor’s Note: This piece was first published in the 22nd PERFORMANCE Magazine – Printed Edition. The KPI Institute’s Business Research Analyst Aida Manea discusses in this article how AI supports decision-making by eliminating biases and diminishing the number of human errors.

Through a variety of ways, artificial intelligence (AI) can help organizations enable and focus on better decision-making. AI could take over administrative roles and allow humans to prioritize more valuable things that require more time. The intelligent agent can take over manual tasks and enable process automation. AI can also plan decisions or predict results based on historical data. 

That holds true even at the departmental level. Freeing managers from worries related to repetitive, administrative, and employee compliance tasks gives them more time for performance management activities. This is reflected in the use of AI as a behavioral assessment tool, data-driven processes where teams are coordinated through feedback, and more opportunities for meaningful human interaction.  

AI in Performance Management

According to a study conducted by the University of Twente, there are two ways to implement AI in an organization. On a small scale, AI can assist a manager in improving small parts of the system, like inventory optimization. On a larger scale, AI could play a role in redesigning core processes at the organizational level.

One thing to pay attention to is knowing which type of implementation to choose. In an environment where human interaction and feedback are essential, it would not be the wisest choice to go for the second option as it could affect human connections. 

The best-case scenario is to benefit from an assisting AI as it would help the manager make decisions while the assistant processes a vast amount of data. This will not only speed up the decision-making process but also guarantee the data veracity. 

AI makes its mark on performance management systems through digitalization. Real-time feedback is  important now more than ever due to the changes within performance management. The traditional yearly review is now being replaced by more frequent and informal check-ins as this would enable the shift from talking about people to talking with people. The 360-degree feedback practice focuses on asking colleagues for feedback on an employee’s performance. 

Another strong point of AI is that it eliminates the biases toward individuals by assessing patterns and historical data with no opinion that might dilute decisions. While the line managers or HR may have their personal opinions about employees coincide with their responsibilities, AI supports decision-making by eliminating biases and diminishing the number of human errors.

AI for HR

At the HR department, the implementation of an AI system will not only process the data faster but will also deliver robust data collection, frequent fact-based performance, and improvement discussions. HR managers are responsible for their teams’ attitudes and behavior so that they can truly contribute to organizational goals. 

In 2018, IBM realized the need for AI in mitigating biases and improving departmental performance. This is why IBM Smarter Workforce Institute wrote the paper “The role of AI in mitigating bias to enhance diversity and inclusion,” in which practical recommendations are offered for organizations that are looking to adopt AI in their HR daily activities.

Efficient and effective recruitment – A recruiter’s main challenges are prioritizing all the roles they are responsible for and finding a way to differentiate among candidates that applied for the same position. Deploying AI determines how long a job requisition will take to fill based on past data so that recruiters can prioritize the roles available. 

Moreover, AI can predict future performance by determining the match between a resume and the job requisition and filtering candidates. The challenge in IBM regarding effective recruitment is to help HR managers surface the top candidates for the open positions and prioritize the most important requisitions. Their solution is IBM Watson Recruitment, an AI system that assesses information about the job market and past experiences of potential candidates in order to predict the necessary time to fill in positions and spot the most suitable candidates. 

The huge advantage for recruiters is that they can focus on building and nurturing relationships with applicants. At the same time, AI collects the demanded skills from job requisitions and generates a score against skills mentioned in resumes. Finally, IWR watches over the hiring decisions to make sure they are free from bias and turns the candidate and recruiter’s experiences into better ones.

Enhancing motivation – At IBM, the individual needs of employees are essential, and managers get alerts about it. For example, the manager is alerted when there is an employee with years of experience in the company, has skills, and is ready for a promotion. The same applies to the case of employees with a higher propensity to leave or when employees from a specific department are at risk of missing their targets. 

Through this alarm signal, managers are able to make decisions over the organization’s talent management approach. Another AI implication is the chatter analysis used to capture the top three internal issues from social media sources. Leaders can receive personalized recommendations to increase the team’s engagement. Other benefits brought by AI can be smarter compensation planning and career development.

The drawbacks of AI systems can be avoided by making sure the data is never used as a sole determinator in decisions. AI initiatives can barely break organizational barriers, based on a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review in which only 8% of firms engage in core practices that support the adoption of Artificial Intelligence. The shift towards AI should start by aligning the organizational culture and the internal operating ways to support digital transformation. Here are the three main actions to scale up AI:

  1. Replace siloed work with cross-functional teams collaboration. The mix of perspectives increases the impact AI has over the processes as it ensures that projects address broad organizational concerns and not just isolated ones. Moreover, if end users are required to test what development teams work on, the chances of adoption increase.
  2. Abandon the top-down approach. Integrating AI into processes will increase the trust of employees in algorithms. They are the ones who will ultimately make a decision based on the algorithm result and their experience. Once they feel empowered to make decisions without having to consult a higher-up, they will get a taste of what AI can offer: freedom of action.
  3. Embrace an agile, experimental, and adaptable mindset. The idea of having an idea baked before it is deployed must be replaced with a test and learn vision. This reduces the fear of failure and allows companies to correct minor mistakes before they become costly ones by receiving early feedback from users.

AI’s ability to promote automated processes, analyze data, predicts trends, and even build frameworks helps the organization in its strategy and business planning. In order to maximize the product and effects of AI, it is essential to establish a strong strategy mindset.

The KPI Institute offers a program that would help you design an organization’s strategy and plan your business using a strategic framework. Enroll now in the Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional Live Online course! For more details, visit The KPI Institute’s website HERE.

Servitization: Selling Usability and Performance


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Sell the mobility, not the vehicle! Sell the light, not the lamp! Sell the cooling, not the AC!

In a continuously changing market with intense competitiveness and constant shifts in the customer’s behavior, traditional manufacturers have to keep adapting and innovating to maintain their positions. 

An innovative business strategy that shifts the traditional way of doing business is servitization, a process through which the producers go from a product based model to a Product-Service System (PSS). Companies are no longer producing and selling products alone. They are selling services, integrated solutions, and an overall greater experience for the end consumer.

According to Miying Yang and Steve Evans’ study on “product-service system business model archetypes and sustainability,” a generally agreed-upon way to classify the PSS is to include it in one of the following models:

  1. Product-Oriented – when the provider sells the product that ends in the buyer’s ownership. Other services such as consultancy or maintenance can be sold.
  2. Use-Oriented – when a business provides customers with the utility of a product while keeping its ownership. Examples are renting or leasing.  
  3. Result-Oriented – when the company sells the results of a product or the value being delivered to the customer. The customer only buying the consumed light instead of lighting products is a relevant example of this typology.

To remain relevant in an always-evolving environment, companies should seize every opportunity to enhance their performance and obtain competitive advantages. Servitization is a win-win model benefiting all the involved parties that’s  why an increasing number of businesses are approaching it. 

Competing through advanced services is, first of all, an opportunity for growth and profitability as the revenue streams are more diverse. By offering complimentary ongoing services, the income gates certain stability due to recurring and incremental revenue streams.

The relations with the clients are strengthened as their satisfaction is increasing and their loyalty is drive-up. Greater alignment with the customer needs facilitates a long-term relationship and a better relationship with the customers means higher barriers to competition.

Using a servitization model can become an important source of insights for further innovation because providers are still connected to their service which eases the detection of improvements and can spark ideas for new services. Additionally, services are more labor-dependent and less visible which makes them more challenging to replicate and become a sustainable source of competitive advantage.

With all the above benefits also come challenges that companies face in their process to adopt servitization. The biggest problem results from the aversion to change. Old habits die hard while shifting towards servitization requires fundamental changes in the way companies are doing business, affecting every aspect from the strategic approach to everyday operations.

It is a time-consuming transition that needs to be done gradually to avoid putting pressure on the enterprise’s resources. Also, it requires adjustments in the existing capabilities, new technologies need to be deployed to support the services offered, and the employees need to develop related competencies.  Customers’ perception is another challenge that companies face, as clients may be reluctant to adopt an unfamiliar servitized solution. 

Selling Performance: Pay-per-lux and Power by the Hour

Philips Lighting, currently activating as Signify launched the ‘Pay-per-lux’ model, a ‘lighting-as-a-service’ offer for its customers. Signify handles the entire lighting service – design, installation, maintenance, and upgrades while the customers pay a monthly service fee for light. The program considers circular principles and uses advanced technologies like AI and the Internet of Things. In this model, Signify keeps the ownership of the lighting systems and offers a five-year performance contract, which is based on a series of key performance indicators such as light level, uptime, and energy savings.

The solution was first deployed for the National Union of Students from the United Kingdom. Signify is responsible for the lighting system for 15 years, while NUS pays a quarterly fee. As a result, the energy costs have been minimized while the technologies used are continuously updated, and annual checks are done to assess the system’s health and prevent maintenance. 

Rolls-Royce manufactures engines for the aviation industry and implements a servitization model named Power by the hour through which customers have access to a service package by a dollar-per-flying-hour payment mechanism. CareServices solution offers a variety of services to customers such as engine monitoring to predict potential maintenance problems and ensure the aircraft is ready to fly on time, efficiency services to balance the low fuel consumption with optimized flight operations, asset and safety management solutions, in addition to world-class customer support.

The most recent service agreement has been signed with South Korean airline T’way Air. It will benefit from a service concept based on predictability and reliability that will secure the cost of operating, maintaining, and enhancing aircraft availability.

To sum up, there are many other companies from different industries that are moving their focus towards servitization. Even though it is not shielded from risk, the model can create significant benefits in relation to resource efficiency, growth, customer relationship, resilience, and impact on competitiveness. For a traditional manufacturer, a gradual transition from product commercialization to a servitize offering can become a decisive factor in its long-term sustainability.

To ensure a smoother transition from the traditional way of doing business to servitization, join the Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional course offered by The KPI Institute. Develop the right plan and strategy for your business in achieving servitization. For further details, visit

All You Need to Know About Customer Experience


The customer experience is based on all the interactions a customer has with a company or brand during their relationship. This spans every touchpoint with an establishment which includes accessing them via in-store, online, customer support, and product which encompasses every relationship a customer has with a brand. In essence, customer experience refers to the customer’s view of a brand based on the totality of each interaction. 

If you are a business owner, you know that every interaction with your customers, big or small, can impact their experience and how they feel about your brand. You cannot create a unique experience until you know where and when your customers are interacting with your brand. Not all customers know what they specifically want from you, so making this step more enjoyable will help them focus and engage with your brand.

As a business, if you can understand how customers perceive your brand, you can provide them with a better customer experience. Actively collecting customer feedback to understand what is working well and what needs improvement provides a clear picture of how you and your customer service team can improve the customer experience over time. You can use this valuable information about your customers to identify improvement opportunities and enhance the customer experience. Armed with this understanding, employees in the organization can better identify gaps between the desired and current performance, and refocus efforts on new areas of customer service that can be improved. 

Importance of a positive customer experience

One thing is for sure: to provide a positive experience, you need to know your customers better than ever. A positive customer experience can also be a huge ROI benefit given that nearly 65% ​​of consumers consider customer experience to be more important than the price of a product or service. This is important to note because if the customer experience is poor, other areas of the business will be affected. Improving customer experience would not only positively affect other areas of the business but also be a great way to increase profit margins. Therefore, creating a positive customer experience is critical to the success of your business because a happy customer is more likely to become a repeat customer who can help you increase your income.

When customers are happy and satisfied with their interactions with your business, it leads to a positive customer experience that increases customer loyalty, repeat customers, and customer retention, as well as encourages branding. When customers feel valued and can appreciate the overall experience of doing business with your brand, they become loyal customers that can help your business expand. Not only that, but loyal customers help spread positive feedback about your brand and attract new customers through referrals. 

A great customer experience is based not only on the quality of the products and services you offer but also on how you invite customers to interact with your brand across the multiple touchpoints that you have available. This results in great customer reviews through positive word of mouth that can promote your brand in ways you never imagined possible. 

Once you get to know your customers well enough, you can use that knowledge to personalize every interaction. That is why it is so important to provide an amazing experience and make customers want to keep doing business with you. Customers are your best asset in building your brand awareness.


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