Leading the Expedition to Top Quartile Performance

true north Oct 08, 2020

Are your teams aligned to your Top Organizational Goals or True North Goals?

Do you know how your team members would respond to the question “what are our top goals”? If you hesitate, there may be a gap between what is actually happening and the actions that are needed to achieve True North Goals. 

A common problem in many organizations is that their teams are not clear on how they are connected to the top goals of the organization. The inability to take high level goals and translate those into action is a major cause of missing key performance measures.

Understand the difference between a vision statement and true north goals.

Having a mission statement & vision statement is important in an organization – the reason to have these established is to ensure everyone understands the purpose of the organization and & are inspired to contribute.

The purpose of an organization's top goals or True North Goals is to establish ‘what success looks like’. One of the ways that this is accomplished is setting “must do, can’t fail” goals that are meaningful and measurable to ensure the organization is balanced and successful. The goals should be striving for perfection in all the key pillars of a balanced scorecard organization

Five Performance Pillars (outcomes expected):

            Quality (Zero Defects)

            Value (Cost & Productivity)

            Service (Exceed Customer Expectations)

            Safety (Zero Harm – Staff & Customers)

            People (Engaged Talent Satisfaction & Retention)

It is critical to have metrics that establish a baseline, while also establishing key milestone goals for improvement that are incremental to achieving perfection.

Clearly communicate the goals to everyone in the organization and ensure they understand how they contribute

Every division, department & team member should be able to articulate how they connect to each of the key goals. High performers want to be part of something meaningful, by establishing lofty goals everyone will be striving to achieve those goals.

 For healthcare, here is what True North might look like for each pillar of performance:

Quality – Perfect Care - Top Quartile performance in clinical outcomes & patient experience

Value – Best Value – Meet or exceed financial measures – Worked Hours per Patient Day

Service – No Delays – Best in class performance in patient wait times and hospital length of stay

Safety – Zero Harm – Top Quartile performance is staff and patient safety

People – Engaged Talent – Top Quartile performance in team satisfaction scores and retention

Emergency Department example for Service goal. The Organizations True North Goal for Service is no delays, patients should move smoothly through the system without waiting. For an Emergency Department: Best in Class is from the time the patient checks in to the time they are in front of the doctor should be under 20 minutes. The True North Goal is 20 minutes, but our current goal might be to improve from 90 minutes to 45 minutes or some incremental change.

 Empower teams to problem solve the issues in their way

Now that there are goals established, we must change the orientation to problems. Because we are striving for new levels of performance, we must expect that we will be identifying issues that are in the way. Those individuals closest to the processes will be the ones seeing the problems thus THEY must have a mindset that “problems are gems” and be skilled to problem-solve the issues they face.

Measure results daily

By waiting until the end of the month to check performance towards the True North Goals it is too late to take corrective action. All teams should know daily, how they are performing towards achieving key performance measures.

A challenge for you

My challenge for you this week is to ask a handful of people that work in your organization “What are our ‘must do, can’t fail’ goals?”

Based on what you learn, take action to identify areas that you can improve to align everyone to your True North Goals.

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