The 3 biggest barriers to become a High Performance Organisation and how to overcome them!

We often get asked by leaders why all their enormous efforts in transformation projects are not creating the intended outcome of a high performance organisation.


In our experience these are the 3 main barriers:


  1. The complete focus is on increasing efficiency
    All sorts of cost-cutting and efficiency boosting activities are taking place, e.g. digitalisation projects are speeding up processes. But these are optimisation projects and have nothing to do with a fundamental transformation, which leads to a quantum leap in performance. It is often overlooked that the best strategy does not work out, if its implementation is not supported by sufficient collaboration. The foundation of a premium collaboration is a premium company culture, while systems and processes are just reflecting the quality of the current culture.

  2. The Culture Transformation Programme is mainly based on assumptions
    When organisations are already working on culture, the leaders have a clear understanding where they want to go, but often they do not know where they really are, regarding their current culture. The transformation programme is therefore based on unverified assumptions. This would be similar to entering the destination address into your navigation system without a GPS signal. The system would create a routing plan starting from the latest known address from last year. No wonder why so many companies get lost on their transformation journey, because they have to start from where they actually are and not from where they would like to be.

  3. The Desired Culture has been created by the brain and is not touching the hearts
    Most of us have seen the glossy pictures on the walls, displaying the company values. Unfortunately, these values and behaviours often do not have the magical power to touch the hearts of the employees. From the Google Aristotle project we understand, that the main contributor to high performance is the “psychological safety” of the employees. Therefore it is important for the desired culture to create a great internal cohesion, which supports a strong emotional bond between the employees and the company. It is not about creating the perfectly thought through and strictly defined desired culture, which decorates walls beautifully, but is not touching the hearts of the employees, because it is not addressing their needs.

How can we bypass these barriers and successfully build a High Performance Culture?


Simply put, we have to create a high amount of psychological safety in our employees.


But how do we implement a working environment with much less frustration and fear, in which the employees find meaning and contribute with all their potential?


Psychological fear arises in human beings, when the most important needs are not fulfilled. But how do we find out which needs our employees really have?


For this we use a method, which from our perspective, addresses all 3 barriers in one step:


The „Cultural Values Assessment“, created by the Barrett Values Centre.


This online Values Assessment is using a consciousness model, which is based on an extended version of Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs. The values, which have been chosen by the people, are making the real needs visible.


This way, leaders easily realise:

  • Which personal needs they themselves and their employees bring to work every day?
  • How the employees experience the current collaboration?
  • How the common desired culture of the organisation would look like, when the most important needs are met and the people contribute at best.

During a culture workshop, the leaders analyse the Values Assessment Output and identify Quick-Win Actions, which will address the employees’ biggest concerns and frustrations in the current culture. This increases the trust of the employees because their feedback has been heard and actions are taken to improve these hot spots.

In a second step, the leaders design their unique desired culture, which takes into account the needs of the whole organisation. When employees feel cared for, this touches their hearts and boosts their engagement significantly.


The insights gained from the values assessments increase the awareness of the leaders for their own needs, as well as the needs of their employees. They also realise how big their personal influence is on the daily collaboration of their teams. This is a very powerful start for the longer transformation journey ahead.


The sustainable transformation into a high performance organisation depends very much on the successful personal transformation of the leaders. They regularly reflect about their personal behaviour patterns, challenge their own habits and assumptions. The leaders exemplify the transformation, they wish to see in their employees and become great culture multipliers for the whole organisation.


The culture of an organisation is like a garden. If it should flourish and produce sweet fruits, it needs regular attention and care. To avoid that the original enthusiasm for the desired culture gets lost between urgent operational tasks, the executives need to put it on their agenda regularly to manage the progress.


An annual culture check, displays changes of the needs of the people and makes culture transparent and measurable. This way you can successfully manage the transformation of your company into a high performance organisation.


Reflection on Doubt


How to take more successful Decisions?


For a long time, I was proud of my rational decision-making. I was able to neglect my gut feeling and take the most logical decisions. Very often after taking the decision, I was finding myself in doubts. “Would it not have been better to do it the other way?” In this internal conflict, I was losing a lot of energy and focus. It took me a while to understand that for successful decisions, I need a more holistic approach.


Today I am listening to my body, my emotions, my gut and my heart and of course I am still using my mind to come to a decision. I trust having found a successful decision when I have reached inner clarity. That means, my head and my heart are aligned and pulling in the same direction. Guess what? After taking decisions, I had no more doubts. Today I can make use of the energy, that I lost earlier in my inner conflicts, to start the relevant actions as a result of my decisions.

I found a way to consciously take decisions, which turned out to be a lot more peaceful and more successful than my pure rational decisions. But why?


According to Harvard researchers, 95% of our buying decisions are made unconsciously. [1]


Neurobiologists tell us that human consciousness really experiences the world in a holistic way. For example, people don't experience a cake by sampling a sequence of ingredients. Instead, they experience the taste of a fully baked cake.


Companies are starting to invest in Neuro-Marketing, to make use of research insights of how customers buying decisions are influenced by the complex interactions between mind, brain, body, emotions and society.


Instead of just using this knowledge to sell more to customers, leaders could also start using this knowledge to take more successful conscious decisions.This is exactly what conscious leadership is about.


It is not about learning new tools to improve the small 5% part of our decision making process. 

It is about tapping more and more into the powerful 95% of the unconscious part of decision-making.

Conscious Leaders understand which unconscious drivers are influencing their decisions.


Richard Barrett introduced a very smart model to describe the process of decision-making in detail [2]:


Richard distinguishes 3 outcomes: Reactions, Responses and Reflections. The outcome is very much influenced by the consciousness you are in, when taking the decision.


Reactions happen very fast. This is an advantage if you have to run for your life. The beast chasing you does not care about it if you tell him: “Stop - I need more time for a well reflected decision.” Your unconscious instincts are very much appreciated in this case.


The dangerous part are the subconscious beliefs. Let us assume, as a small child we fell into water and were almost drowning, because we could not swim. Today as an adult, we have to make a decision how to cross a small river. Our subconscious belief is, water is life threatening. We probably unconsciously discard the option to swim, instead we would feel better to take the long way to the next bridge.


Especially when under pressure, people tend to automatically use routine thinking patterns to decide. In a fast changing world, leaders cannot expect to be successful, when they just use solutions from the past for complex challenges of the future.


Only if you are aware that you are driven by subconscious beliefs, you have a real choice. Only then you can create more conscious outcomes like value based responses or well reflected decisions using your intuition.


So the prerequisite to come to sustainable successful decisions is to become more and more conscious.


And conscious leadership can be learned. READ MORE …





[1] Gerald Zaltman “How Customers Think - Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market”


[2] Richard Barrett “The 6 Modes of Decision-making”



Mozart's Bed vs. Innovation Labs

Innovation Lab vs Mozarts Bed



In the past, big corporations took over small companies. In future, fast enterprises will buy slow corporations. In 2012 Innosight forecasted, that almost 75% of the S&P companies would not be listed anymore in 2027. Digitalisation and globalisation are the main drivers. In every corner on this planet, 3D printers can quickly produce all kinds of products (e.g. shoes, food, cars etc)


To have great ideas and turn them into innovative products for a fast changing market, will be the only criterion for future success.


Many transforming companies are setting up innovation labs. Often these are organisational units or special rooms to improve creative thinking. This is a good start, but other conditions will deliver the big differences.

Who of you already kept an idea private?


I think almost everybody. For sure there have been some potential bestsellers among them.


But why are we holding ideas back?


Honestly? We did not want to make a fool of ourselves.


Fear is certainly not the state in which employees produce many ideas. Our body cells switch into protection mode und direct all energy to the muscle cells. This was a smart move during our evolution to enable defence or flight mechanisms, but did not serve our thinking process.


Under pressure our brain reproduces only the success concepts of the past. This does not sound very creative. Especially in a daily changing world, solutions of the past will hardly lead to future successes.


When we also see that almost 95% of our thoughts are nothing but a replay of the thoughts we had yesterday, we understand that ideas cannot be churned out.


Ideas are not produced by command. Ideas emerge mainly in places, where people feel comfortable. Mozart’s famous music arose in his bed. Newton mainly received his scientific insights in his garden. Most ideas are emerging while taking a shower, sitting on a sofa or doing sports. But maybe you also belong to the 10% of the people, who have their best ideas "in the john".


Only 3.4% of the employees see their working environment as an enabler for creativity. Many managers lead by pressure and fear. Therefore they mainly get anxious proposals back, because ideas mirror exactly the state of the originating source.


Successful innovations need a special climate of creativity.


Leaders, who create a work environment without fear, are laying the foundation. But how does the construction plan of the house for future successes, look like?


When are you really having your best ideas?

  • When the topic is close to your heart.
  • When you can use your personal strengths.
  • When you are part of a team, which has common values and a lot of fun during work.
  • When you are supporting a common goal and
  • When you are following a meaningful vision, which makes a difference for others.

Conscious leaders know how to build a house for future successes. They create a value based company culture, which enables curiosity and creativity and is allowing mistakes to happen.


Conscious leaders create a safe space for their organisations to foster continuous learning, unlocking full potentials, as well as inner and outer growth for themselves and their teams. This way they open up the opportunity for elation, innovation, co-creation and lasting success to be a part of the business.


Do You Know Thomas Midgley Jr. ?

Thomas Midgley was a great U.S. researcher and a very successful business man. He developed the tetraethyllead (TEL) additive to gasoline, to avoid motor noise, as well as the first chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as cooling liquid or propellant in aerosol cans.


After 1930, the time when he created these inventions, he was well respected and earned a lot of money through his patents. Today Thomas Midgley is regarded as the human being with the biggest impact on the atmosphere in our entire history.


He is only one example among many others, how most leaders handle challenges.


They solve problems by reducing a system more and more, until they discover a clear cause-and-effect chain. The big picture of the whole system has been lost. The impact of a decision is not predictable anymore.


Successes are changing the world for the better. We have to thank Mister Midgley for quiet cars, fantastic refrigerators, light aerosol cans and a huge ozone hole.


This way we also produce successes which nobody wants. Unconsciously we have created an economy which is using 50% more resources than our planet can regenerate. Every child understands that we cannot continue like this. We cannot treat business as a standalone system anymore. Business is a wholly owned subsidiary of society and society is a wholly owned subsidiary of the natural environment.


We need a new leadership paradigm. We not only need a holistic mind-set, we need a new consciousness, from which we operate. Conventional leadership models taught us to efficiently handle processes and results. But where do our thoughts and ideas come from?


The source is the consciousness of each leader.


Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer at MIT tells: “Successful leadership depends very much on the quality of the awareness and the intent, which a leader has in each moment. Two leaders, who work under identical conditions, will produce completely different results, depending on the inner state, in which they operate.”


Do you know your current inner state?


Probably not, because we are far too busy. We are far too busy in functioning as part of our reduced system and we lost the big picture.


The goal is to earn money, for ourselves and the company. This is the original and important purpose of business. But we can expand this purpose by the factor meaning. E.g. we could have a positive impact on society and the planet.


Company cultures which consciously focus on the common good of all involved people (customers, employees, suppliers, investors) are proofing to be extremely successful. Adobe, Google, Southwest Airlines or MasterCard are demonstrating this already for several years.


The Conscious Leadership approach produces happier employees, improved creativity and as an almost automatic consequence sustaining success.