The Story. In 2000 I was Chief Marketing Officer and a co-founder of Voyant Technologies, a Denver-based teleconferencing technology provider. Founded in 1999, we gained traction quickly and began growing at a healthy rate, adding a number of people to our original team every month. One day a veteran team member sought me out to tell me that first, he was excited about our growth and success. He felt we were on our way to becoming the market leader in our space. While that was nice to hear, at the same time he said he no longer knew what was going on in the business, and said he’d lost sight of how his daily contributions were making a difference at the company.
Frankly, he was concerned.
His comments stopped me short. Later that day I queried a few more team members and got similar responses–they were excited about our growth, but not clear on how we were performing as a business. And they too, were unsure how their efforts were contributing to the greater good.
Now I knew we had a problem.
We had become so focused on growth and celebrating sales wins that we, the company’s leaders, had neglected something fundamental: communicating clearly and frequently our progress against our plans and objectives across all aspects of our business. We had to take action as our success was actually becoming a de-motivator!
After consulting with my peers, I created a model that became a very effective tool for clearly communicating all the important elements of our company and operations to our entire team. We called it the Performance Pyramid.
The Pyramid. When we founded Voyant, we spent considerable time formulating our core values, company purpose, and mission. These were the rock(s) we built the company on and would direct our behaviors inside and outside the business. In creating the model, we layered our annual business objectives and key strategies on top of these elements. These targets and plans had been created by our leadership team, but had not been well-communicated to the entire company. Finally, we placed department tactics and daily activities on top of the Pyramid, knowing our department leaders would add these and provide the rest of the connection for all of our team members.
We taught the company how to understand and use the model. In creating clarity and alignment around our objectives and frequently communicating progress, everyone had a clear line-of-sight to how their work added value…and made a difference. And the results were significant. The Pyramid started appearing in people’s work spaces, the hallways and in our common areas. Team members actually talked about “where they fit” in the Pyramid. For some of us, it seemed so simple yet became a powerful propellant to our success. We became, in two short years, the market leader in our space and more profitable than we could have imagined. I successfully employed the Performance Pyramid at two more companies as CEO and now work with company leaders, and their leadership teams, in crafting or clarifying core vales, company purpose and mission.
Performance Consulting. It’s surprising how many businesses either don’t have this foundation articulated well, or are unclear on core values, company purpose, and mission. Historically, businesses that are clear and intentional around these key elements create healthy, vibrant cultures, experience above average growth and outperform their peers in the marketplace, regardless of company size. If your company or organization is not clear on its core values, purpose, and market mission, if your team members lack motivation and drive, or if your leadership team is not aligned with how to achieve company objectives, then perhaps talking to me about the Performance Pyramid concept and how to employ it successfully might be a good next step.