At an ISPI conference in San Francisco some years ago, our colleague Guy Wallace did another round of interviews for his legacy series exploring the foundations and history of ISPI. He interviewed Carl and asked him about his own part of that history, while pulling out anecdotes and stories of some of the more interesting personalities who originated this wonderful technology on which we base our work. Watch it here.
In addition to the simplicity and plain language of the Six Boxes® Model itself, the visual and conceptual simplicity of the Performance Chain provides a foundation for "performance thinking" in the overall Six Boxes Approach. These are the graphic, linguistic and conceptual elements that make the approach simple to understand and describe. They also, of course, contain far more complexity in depth than is obvious at the outset.
I continue to come back to a theme that I and Dr. Donald Tosti addressed in a session at the annual conference of ISPI a few years ago, the difference between a problem-solving orientation to performance improvement and what we called a design engineering approach. Don was an informal mentor of mine, and an inspiration for decades, in many different ways. In this instance we found that we are in "violent agreement" and have continued the dialog over time. Don says that before the quality movement, performance improvement wasn't so focused on finding the cause of problems, but rather it was about getting the best possible performance as efficiently as possible. Today it seems more tilted toward problem-solving.
We believe that if you clearly connect the day-to-day activities of people to the goals the organization needs to achieve through their valuable work outputs, and then align and balance all the factors that influence their ability to perform, you will fully engage your employees. But let’s drop down to the working level beyond theory for a moment (even though we’ve proven the theory with clients!). Assuming that you know about the Performance Chain and the Six Boxes Model, here are eight steps that will help you strengthen employee engagement.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande, has had a much greater impact than simply on the field of clinical medicine, its birthplace. As was noted by one of its reviewers when the book first came out in 2009, it represents a potential "game changer." That is, job aids offer the potential for improving performance with extreme cost-effectiveness, in this case literally saving lives.
I often look back over my management career and wish I could go back and re-solve some of those performance problems with the Six Boxes. How much time and energy was wasted! One of the most memorable for me, especially because the outcome was the loss of a good employee, always comes to mind.
It's an old story that the top row of The Six Boxes Model generally provides more leverage than the bottom row. That's because the things we can do to change the environment (top row) are usually more powerful and broad-reaching than what we can do when we focus on the individual (bottom row).