Inclusion powers innovation – The 3C’s – A great example

Christchurch Engine Centre is a joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and Air New Zealand Limited.

Air New Zealand’s CEO, Christopher Luxon once shared this great insight:

“The thing for me is recognising that, as a business leader, you have a responsibility to lead a company for the future, leaving it in a better place in five, 10, 15, or 20 years’ time. My job is to make sure that commercials are strong, the customer experience is great, the culture of the organisation is constantly improving.”

Pratt & Whitney follow this same strategy.  Here is a great video I came across when preparing for a recent workshop session.  It is the best summary I have seen of the “why” every organisation should work at High Performance through Engagement.

Sustainable high performance is achieved when we create a culture that is collaborative,  innovative, where we can all have confidence in what we bring to the table and where we can achieve together.


It is all about People:

He aha te mea nui o te ao

What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

Maori proverb

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Creating a Constructive Culture (HPtE #4)

An HPtE Strategy® starts from the premise that in order to achieve sustainable high performance it is essential to satisfy three necessary conditions:

  1. Commercial Responsibility
  2. Consumer Value
  3. Culture

Culture – A Safe, Secure and Satisfying work environment

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, developed the idea of “first who, then what – get the right people on the bus”.  He talks about making sure you have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before figuring out where to drive the bus.  When facing chaos and uncertainty, your best “strategy” is to have a busload of people who can adapt and perform brilliantly no matter what comes next.

Extending this analogy further, consider the impact of the behaviour of the bus driver.  Do they come across very controlling and task-oriented, overly friendly and people-oriented or do they take a more balanced and positive approach? Whatever the behaviour, it will affect the culture, climate and mood of the people on the bus.  

Leadership behaviour impacts culture and culture impacts performance.

Using the same bus analogy, but this time thinking about the driver of the bus as an employee and the passengers as consumers.  The next time you get on a bus take a minute to watch the impact of how the bus driver behaves.  Are they cheerful and accommodating or grumpy and dismissive? Whatever their mood as soon as people get on the bus it will have an impact on the passenger’s perception of the value they are getting.  It will have an impact on consumer satisfaction.

When you stand back and take a wider perspective on any organisation you can see two groups of things.  First, the physical resources like buildings, machines (including buses), computers, desks, raw materials etc.  These are the tangibles aspects of an organisation.  Second, there is the people and the principles, policies and rules that guide their behaviour.  The intangibles.

The principles, policies and rules that people hold guide their behaviour which, in turn, determines the effective use of the physical resources.  Without people the physical resources do nothing. 

The principles, policies and rules that have the biggest impact are the unwritten ones that exist in the minds of the people.  These principles, policies and rules create behavioural norms.  The kind of behaviour you see in an organisation is directly related to the level of safety, security and satisfaction the people experience.  The type of behavioural norms that exist is critical to effective resource use.

For decades the focus has been on changing the written or explicit rules in an effort to improve performance.  Rules about accounting and forecasting where created to influence behaviour first.  Efficiency and cost control was fundamental to these rule sets.  Then came rules about continuous improvement in order to increase consumer value.  Lean, Six-Sigma, TQM, JIT, TOC and Agile are all examples of initiatives with explicit rules sets designed to influence resource use.  Because the focus was on the explicit rules, which would often conflict with the expected behavioural norms and unwritten rules, resistance would occur.  To overcome resistance to changes in the explicit rules change management practices began to evolve in order to convince people to change.  For the most part, the unwritten rules still prevail despite these efforts. 

In the early ’80s, publications like In Search of Excellence and Corporate Cultures began to recognise the idea that the unwritten rules and behavioural norms are not just important but a necessary condition for sustainable high performance.  There are now a plethora of books and research papers reinforcing a focus on culture as a strategy.

But a safe, secure and satisfying work environment cannot exist in an organisation that is not Commercially Responsible.  No commercial responsibility – no organisation – no security.

Employees like to do work that is valued.  Value comes from satisfied consumers.  No consumer value – no satisfied consumers – little job satisfaction.

The point is, in order to maintain a constructive Culture that is safe, secure and satisfying it is necessary to be both Commercially Responsible and improve Consumer Value.

We can visually see this:

The 3C’s are a central component of the HPtE Strategy® Framework.

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Up next in the #HPtE series: The 3C’s are totally connected – isn’t it common sense? (HPtE #5)

Improving Consumer Value (HPtE #3)

An HPtE Strategy® starts from the premise that in order to achieve sustainable high performance it is necessary to satisfy three necessary conditions:

  1. Commercial Responsibility
  2. Consumer Value
  3. Culture

Consumer Value 

Remember the old cliché “You can mislead many customers for a short time. But you cannot mislead many, for long”.  With the amount of choice available today satisfying the market or consumer with increased value is fundamental to an organisation’s success.

How many people have you heard complain about their computer being slow recently? How many times have you felt frustrated as you sit waiting for a process to finish?  Most new computers now have around 4GB of memory and load in minutes.  In 1982 the Commodore 64 had 64KB of memory and loaded from a tape drive – it took hours! Performance has exponentially improved year on year but so have consumer expectations.

For an organisation to achieve sustainable high performance it must continually increase Consumer Value to meet changing consumer expectations.  Increasing Consumer Value is the foundation of most new management methodologies and continuous improvement initiatives.  To improve Consumer Value you need to be able to invest in finding improvements.  Investment requires Commercial Responsibility.

Who in your organisation knows more about the problems relating to the performance of a service or product than most?  The people who are closest to them – usually the people at the front line – the employees. Tapping into that knowledge and finding solutions to performance problems is necessary for continuous improvement to Consumer Value.  

More important than finding the problems is implementing the solutions to them.  This is where employees really come into their own. If employees feel unsafe, insecure or dissatisfied the probability of them identifying problems, suggesting ways to improve Customer Value and implementing those solutions is low. Delivering improvements to consumer value requires the development of a constructive Culture.

In order to improve Consumer Value, it is necessary to be Commercially Responsible and develop a constructive Culture. 

We can depict this visually:

The 3C’s are a central component of the HPtE Strategy® Framework.

Keep up to date with the latest articles and news on High Performance through Engagement:

Join 1,050 other subscribers

Up next in the #HPtE series: Creating a Constructive Culture (HPtE #4)