The Three Peaks of Business


The three peaks of business

The three peaks of business are key in performance management and performance improvement.  In business, the aim is always to achieve sustainable, profitable growth by increasing market share. Competition is the key to success and competitive people are the vital element.  Entrepreneurial leaders tend to set high standards and inspire ambitious professionals to follow them, but that desire for excellence and perfection must pervade the whole organisation if its foundations and fabric are to remain robust.  Training and motivation must go hand in hand to produce outstanding results.

The academic study of peak performance may seem a bit remote from the reality of everyday commerce, but it merits some reflection, to help us understand the challenges of remaining successful in business.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology* compares peak experience (intense joy), peak performance (superior functioning), and flow (intrinsically rewarding experience). It states that “Peak experience and peak performance are models of optimal human experiencing and, therefore, are important in personality study. Flow, although not always at a high level, shares many qualities with both constructs. Important attributes shared by all three include absorption, valuing, joy, spontaneity, a sense of power, and personal identity and involvement. The topologies also reveal distinguishing characteristics. Peak experience, for example, is mystic and transpersonal; peak performance is transactive, clearly focusing on self as well as the valued object; and flow is fun.”

Making performance a practical issue

We acknowledge the theories and respect the science of psychology, but our priority is to deliver practical tools to help our client organisations to improve performance.  There are many barriers to identify and to overcome, before targets can be met or ideally exceeded!  Internal factors that affect results start with recruitment and training, move through retention of good people and progress to recognising and rewarding the high achievers.

No sports team can survive by depending on its star players to win every match for them.  The team has to possess a complementary set of skills which are shared across the field, with every player having their specialist role.  Skills must ideally be transferable too, for greater flexibility and adaptability when circumstances dictate.   A business team is no different.

Conditions on the pitch – the market in the case of a business – may vary because of a change in the environment, or when another team simply performs at a higher level.  Strategy and tactics partially influence outcomes, but the combination of agility and flair forms the magic dust that gives a team “star” quality.  Keeping the players fit and keen is the manager’s main challenge in a sporting context.  Once again, business leaders have the same responsibility. 

Peak experience, peak performance and flow are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that directly correlate with employee motivation, productivity and reward.  The theory and the practise meet at the three peaks of business.

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