1st Edition

The Performance Paradox Understanding the Real Drivers that Critically Affect Outcomes

By Jerry L. Harbour Copyright 2009
    192 Pages 75 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    How does performance improve? A simple yet often unexplored question. To quantify it, it must be measured. To measure it, it must be understood. The good news is that once we actually examine how to test performance, a number of basic principles and natural laws emerge. Principles and laws with universal applications across diverse subjects, and when correctly applied, not only unravel the mystery of how performance improves, but how you can improve performance in your organization.

    The Performance Paradox explores the misunderstood subject of performance. While examining the varying measures of performance, the author discusses how to find what is true – that is, what is known and what is not known about performance, what needs to be known, what is useful, and what is not. The book exposes hype and fad and helps you embrace fact and reality. Sprinkled throughout you will find sage and practical advice which can be translated into concrete action irrespective of your intended area of application.

    Based on extensive research by the author, this book provides a deeper understanding what measures of performance can actually tell us about performance or, more specifically what they can tell us about how performance does and does not improve and the practical implications of such derived insights. By examining real-world examples of how abstract ideas can be concretely applied, Jerry Harbour can help transform any business or organization into a high-performance one where results are obtained, rather than imagined.

    Seeking What Is True
    Checking Our Assumptions
    R&D Spending
    Healthcare and Life Expectancy
    Bombing Precision
    Dollars Spent Equals Games Won
    Performance Paradoxes

    Performance as Subject and Why x Matters
    Defining Performance
    Developing a Performance Equation
    Taking the Equation One Step Further
    Understanding the Three Types of x Variables
    Adding Oomph to Your Performance Equation
    From Sea to Land
    Small Round Balls That Fly
    Things That Go Boom
    The Power of Good Logic
    Creating Task Models

    S-Curves and Performance Limits
    Performance Improves Exponentionally
    Normal Curves
    S-Shaped Curves and Logistic Functions
    The Limits of Performance
    Projecting Unrealized Performance Capacity

    How Innovation (Sometimes) Begets Improvement
    Overlapping S-Curves and What They Mean
    About Innovation
    Innovation Types
    Type I Innovations
    Type II Innovations
    Type III Innovations
    Type IV Innovations
    Innovation and Performance Gains
    Biological and Technological Evolution
    The Role of Innovation Shifts

    Modeling Performance

    The Dilemma of Safety versus Productivity
    Models: Definitions and Characteristics
    Performance Models
    Modeling Case Study
    Outlining the Case Study Steps
    The Value of Performance Modeling
    Value to the Oakland A’s
    Value to the U.S. Military
    Some Limitations of Performance Modeling

    Measuring Performance
    Some Definitions and General Observations about Performance
    Descriptive Measures
    Predictive Measures
    Prescriptive Measures
    Models of Performance Should Drive Measures of Performance
    Units of Measurement
    Interpreting Measures of Performance
    SPOTC Measures of Performance

    Improving Performance

    Capacity Matters
    Realizing Unrealized Performance Capacity
    Model- and Measurement-Based Performance Improvement
    Improving SPOTC Performance

    Performance: A Summary


    Jerry L. Harbour