New Manager

Five A's for leaders

D. Murali | Updated on June 26, 2011

Beyond Performance Scott Keller, Colin Price

Achieving organisational excellence hinges on finding answers to five questions, say Scott Keller and Colin Price in Beyond Performance: How great organizations build ultimate competitive advantage ( These questions are presented as 5A's, thus: Aspire (‘where do we want to go?'), assess (‘how ready are we to go there?'), architect (‘what do we need to do to get there?'), act (‘how do we manage the journey?'), and advance (‘how do we keep moving forward?'). Each of these A's is elaborately discussed in separate chapters of the book.

Aspire, assess: The ‘aspire' part involves setting goals by balancing intuition with fact. The authors report the findings of a McKinsey survey of about 2,500 senior executives — that programmes which set tough but achievable goals are 1.2 times more likely to be considered a success than those whose targets are incremental and easy to reach, and 1.6 times more likely to be successful than those whose targets are considered to be impossible to reach.

Assessing the organisational capability, as the book outlines, involves two steps, viz. determining the capabilities that matter most in terms of your performance aspirations, and then evaluating the state of these capabilities in your organisation today. Architect, act: In the ‘architect' stage, you will have to come up with a portfolio of initiatives. For, “companies that follow a portfolio approach and set clear targets, benefits, milestones, resources, and leadership for each initiative are 3.5 times more likely to have a successful transformation.”

The fourth A, that is, ‘act', can go for years, compared to the earlier stages which would have taken months. It can feel like a long haul, especially when you are some way in but have no end in sight, the authors guide.

Advance: Building the capacity for continuous improvement is a task that requires as much energy and focus as any other stage in a transformation, the authors observe.


Published on June 26, 2011

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