World thought leaders in High Performance


The stumbling blocks of sustainable improvement efforts

This Quick Insight critically examines the long-term effectiveness of organizational improvement programs. Utilizing the High-Performing Organization (HPO) framework for evaluation, the study finds that despite numerous improvement efforts, there has been minimal sustainable progress in organizations’ performance levels. The article identifies possible reasons for this lack of progress, such as economic downturns and the ineffectiveness of commonly used improvement methods. It also underscores the importance of High Performance Managerial Leadership, a balanced blend of visionary leadership and disciplined management, as a key to achieving and maintaining high performance. This Quick Insight is especially relevant for organizational leaders, management consultants, and policymakers interested in the complexities and challenges of achieving sustainable organizational improvement.

“The evaluation of organizations through the HPO framework shows that only a few organizations are able to actually achieve and maintain a high-performing status.”

— André de Waal


  1. Research into the Effectiveness of Improvement Programs: Despite the many improvement methods and techniques introduced over the past decades, it is rarely checked whether these are actually effective in creating lasting improvements in the financial and strategic performance of organizations.
  2. The HPO Framework: The high-performing organization (HPO) framework, comprising five factors, can be used to evaluate an organization’s performance. An analysis of the HPO scores of organizations collected in the periods 2005-2007 and 2017-2018 shows little improvement in their HPO scores and thus in their performance levels.
  3. Possible Causes of the Lack of Progress: the economic recession during the measurement period, ineffective improvement methods used, or a lack of discipline in organizations to work consistently with an improvement method.
  4. High Performance Managerial Leadership: The article emphasizes the importance of a balanced combination of leadership behavior and managerial behavior, essential for organizations to become and remain high-performing.
  5. Call to Action: Instead of relying on temporary “miracle cures,” organizations should focus on developing leaders who combine vision and discipline. These leaders must look beyond temporary trends and focus on proven principles of sustainable performance to have a lasting impact.

Read (and share with your colleagues) the HPO Quick Insight ‘IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS CAUGHT RED-HANDED – The stumbling blocks of sustainable improvement efforts’ via this link.


Then insight is essential. Our HPO diagnosis, consisting of a short validated questionnaire based on the HPO framework and in-depth interviews, provides you with this insight. You will get a clear picture of the current situation within your organization or department and receive practical improvement themes that managers and employees can tackle together.

Why is this so important? Because organizations that apply the HPO framework achieve demonstrably better results. Employees feel more responsible and are more focused on improvement, leading to higher productivity and ultimately better financial results. The organization as a whole becomes more focused and disciplined, resulting in a strong reputation for quality.

Working on becoming a High Performance Organization is not only effective but also inspiring and energizing. It's an opportunity to grow and flourish with your team, both professionally and personally. Take the first step today on the path to (even) better results and a work environment where everyone engages with pleasure and passion.

Contact Marco Schreurs and experience the power of the HPO framework for yourself.