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Mar 20 2017
Sustaining Performance and Continuous Improvement

Our overall theme this year for the 8th Annual Six Boxes® Summer Institute (June 18-22)  will be SUSTAINMENT of performance improvement. Most of the sessions we are planning will explore or unpack issues and methods emerging from Six Boxes Performance Thinking for ensuring long-term return on investments in performance interventions. We'll be talking about sustainment at different levels.

Minimally, there is the question as to whether a new performance trained or coached in one or more sessions or modules will actually occur on the job.  This is the classic issue of getting out of the training box with the Six Boxes® Model –  recognizing that in order for new performance to appear reliably when and where it is needed, we need to plan for behavior influences in other cells of the Six Boxes Model beside Skills and Knowledge (box 4).  In many respects, this is at the root of the shift that many organizations are making from training to performance improvement. How can we ensure that training will "stick" on the job?

Then, once we have initiated a given performance intervention – whether we are conducting projects as staff performance professionals or implementing performance development plans for individuals or teams as leaders or managers – we need to be sure that desired performance continues, that it becomes part of ongoing performance in our organizations. This is a matter of checking back to be sure we "got it right" with the elements of our intervention.  We might tweak the original behavior influences to revise aspects of the plan that aren't working as well as they could, identify factors that we overlooked or misunderstood in our initial implementation, or take changes in the performance environment into account and adjust accordingly. This is what our colleague, Gina Rester-Zodrow from Amgen calls, "putting the S in ADDIES."  Many of us are familiar with the acronym ADDIE, which stands for Analysis Design Development Implementation and Evaluation, a widely used approach to creating and implementing performance improvement. At this year's Summer Institute, Gina will tell us more about how her global teams of certified Six Boxes® Practitioners have standardized a process for following up and revising interventions to ensure sustainment.

And finally, we address the sustainment of Performance Thinking® models, tools, and application in organizations after implementation of programs for practitioners or leaders and managers.  How can we sustain, support, and continuously improve application of systematic performance improvement efforts in an organization over time, to counter-act the drift or "flavor of the month" phenomenon that occurs so often after introduction of any new method or approach? Simply stated, things tend to drift back to where they were before the introduction if we do not plan for sustainment. Here we can talk about the bottoms-up communication and viral diffusion that tends to happen with the simple language and models of Six Boxes Performance Thinking, and how some of our long-time thought leaders and champions have worked within their companies to accelerate spread of the Performance Thinking "virus."

We'll also talk about the impact of proactive implementation planning , where we apply Performance Thinking to itself.  We use the Performance Thinking Network's Program Implementation Checklists to plan and then arrange conditions in our organizations to support continued application, develop and expand communities of practice, and be sure that the right behavior influences are in place to sustain application.

In the end, this topic of sustainment is simply about return on investment.  So often in organizations, great ideas do not get fully implemented and valuable programs or interventions do not sustain. We're going to address this issue head on at this year's Summer Institute , and we're looking forward to discussion among our colleagues at the Institute about challenges and solutions related to this important topic. Please join us.


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