Blog: Driving Super Performance: Culture, Process, and the Balance Between


Small companies often succeed on sheer will and raw talent. Large companies build strength and power through the mechanics of process innovation. The smaller player thrives on organic growth, while the bigger one requires the mechanical means to manage large, complex business operations and channels.

But neither model is sustainable.

The reason is that organic growth is built upon the primal skills and talent of the workforce, while mechanical growth relies heavily on replicable processes and procedures that provide scalability and operational control.

In his seminal white paper Superperformance: A New Theory on Optimization, Dave Guerra puts forth a new performance formula:

Process x Culture = Superperformance.

Guerra states:

“Superperformance is the product of process and culture. In this formulation, process is defined as the work and culture as the spirit of an organization.

The work of an organization comprises its physical dimension, encompassing business strategies, systems, and methods, while the spirit of an organization reflects the creativity, engagement, and inspiration of people in the company — its emotional dimension.

The strength and interaction of these two forces form the spark for organizational super performance.

This formula takes into account the organic, human factors that make smaller businesses thrive as well as the processes and methodologies that allow larger organizations to scale and manage a larger workforce.

But it’s the balance between these two forces that really creates workforce optimization.

Failure to maintain a balance between the two may result in an organization’s inability to grow due to its lack of organic, raw talent and/or its failure to provide the basic structure a workforce needs for sustainability.

Conversely, unbalanced organizations risk becoming too mechanical. Sometimes, processes and procedures become so prescriptive that they squeeze out any of the organic passion and creativity that are the lifeblood for innovation and growth. This can be seen in large companies quite often, where workers feel like stunted cogs in a giant machine.

In a balanced organization, flexible processes and procedures are put in place to provide a framework for growth and sustainability. This structure takes into account the unique talents and creativity of each employee (the culture) while helping them model the best-in-class behaviors that drive organizational performance (the process).

Together, there is harmony, balance, and a workforce that is running on all cylinders.

And when an organization reaches that point, it becomes an unstoppable force.

Joseph F. Bastian, president of The Human Performance Network, is a regular contributor to and DBusiness Daily News.