High Performance, also called "Excellence", first requires people to Care about their results.
They are related through the Feedback Loop of Continuous Improvement, also known as O-O-D-A (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) and Plan-Do-Check-Act (from W. Edwards Deming).
The Military take OODA another level with After-Action-Reviews or After-Action-Reports (AAR's), a structured approach to acquiring "Lessons Learned".
High Performance has two aspects: work-rate and consistency.
It's not enough to produce identical/consistent goods or results everytime, but you have to do it with speed.
There's an inviolate Quality Dictum:
You can't Check your own work.
For Organisations, this Dictum becomes:
Objective assessment requires an Independent Expert Body.
From which follows the necessity for an External Auditor:
Only Independent persons/bodies can check an Organisation and its people/processes for compliance and performance.
For around 80 years, Aviation has separated the roles of Investigation, or Root Cause Analysis, from Regulation, Compliance and Consequences. In the USA the NTSB Investigates and the FAA Regulates. This has led to consistent, demonstrable improvement in both Safety and Performance. Profitability is linked to Marketing, Financial Management and Administration, not just Performance.
All of which leads to the basic Professional Test for individuals:
"Never Repeat, or allow to be repeated, Known Errors, Faults and Failures".
And the Raison d'être of Professional Associations or Bodies:
To collect, preserve and disseminate Professional Learnings of Successes, Failures, Discovery and Invention.
Barry Boehm neatly summaries the importance of the Historical Perspective as:
Santayana half-truth: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
Don’t remember failures?
Don’t remember successes?
- Likely to repeat them
- Not likely to repeat them
All these statements are about Organisations as Adaptive Control Systems.
To effect change/improvement, there has to be reliable, objective measures of outputs and the means to effect change: Authority, the Right to Direct and Control, the ability to adjust Inputs or Direct work.
Which points the way as to why Outsourcing is often problematic:
The Feeback Loop is broken because the hirer gives up Control of the Process.
Most Organisations that Outsource critical functions, like I.T., completely divest themselves of all technical capability and, from a multitude of stories, don't contract for effective Quality, Performance or Improvement processes.
They give up both the capability to properly assess Outputs and Processes and Control mechanisms to effect change. Monthly "management reports" aren't quite enough...