Performance comprises four interlocking elements.
Is your organization's performance as good as it could be? What could be changed to improve things and why would this help? Does the key lie in the work itself? Or with the people doing it? Should you reorganize the corporate structure? Or try to change the prevailing culture?
And why does one organization seem to thrive on a certain corporate structure or type of work, while another struggles to make a profit?
The answer lies in understanding the key causes or drivers of performance and the relationship between them. The Congruence Model, first developed by David A Nadler and M L Tushman in the early 1980s, provides a way of doing just this.
It's a powerful tool for finding out what's going wrong with a team or organization, and for thinking about how you can fix it.
The Congruence Model is based on the principle that an organization's performance is derived from four elements: tasks, people, structure, and culture. The higher the congruence, or compatibility, amongst these elements, the greater the performance. For example, if you have brilliant people working for you, but your organization's culture is not a good fit for the way they work, their brilliance will not shine through. Likewise, you can have the latest technology and superbly streamlined processes to support decision making, but if the organizational culture is highly bureaucratic, decisions will undoubtedly still get caught in the quagmire.
To avoid this type of incongruence, the Congruence Model offers a systematic way to consider the root elements that drive organizational performance. The following diagram shows how the four critical elements relate to strategy and performance:
This Congruence Model can be used to consider other drivers of performance and effectiveness too. Follow the same steps below, looking for congruence and incongruence between the key drivers you have identified as important to the part of the business you are examining.
To apply the Congruence Model start by looking at each component individually and then compare and analyze how they relate to one another.
Tasks: First you need to understand what work is at the core of your organization's performance. Here you are looking at the critical tasks that are done within the organization from two perspectives: What work is done, and how is it processed.
People: You know what work is done; now you have to look at who does it. You need to know what types of people are currently performing the organization's critical tasks.
Organizational Structure: This element involves looking at the formal structure, systems and processes that support the organization.
Culture: Here you are concerned with the unwritten rules that define how work is really done – which depends on attitudes, beliefs, commitment, motivation and so on, as well as the formal elements of process and structure that you have already examined. This element is the hardest to define, and often the one with the most influence.
The Tasks, People, Organization Structure and Culture headings are just one way of looking at this.
Once you have identified the major factors in performance for each of the four key elements, you need to look at how they interrelate. You are looking for areas of congruence and incongruence.
Work through the areas of congruence and incongruence you have identified, and decide what needs to be done to resolve major incongruence and to reinforce congruence. As you move forward with your plan, strategy, or decision, it's important to remember that you keep on looking for the things that are well-coordinated, as well as the things that aren't. It's just as important to reinforce what is currently congruent, as well as change what's incongruent, and build in processes to ensure that the current congruence is maintained.
Organizations are effective when the four key components of performance – tasks, people, structure, and culture – fit together. When these elements work in unison to support and promote high performance, the end result is an organization-wide system that functions efficiently and effectively.
When pieces are out of synch with each other, the friction that is caused has a negative impact on the entire process, which limits the overall productivity that can be achieved.
With the Mind Tools Club, you get much, much more than you do here for free.
And we'll give you the 4 workbooks above when you join!
Learn on the move with the free Mind Tools iPhone, iPad and Android Apps. Short bursts of business training ideal for busy people.