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Benchmarking is culture


Även om de flesta organisationer förstår vikten av benchmarking misslyckas många att integrera den på ett effektivt och hållbart sätt. Anledningen är att benchmarking värderas som ett ledningsverktyg eller teknik snarare än som en del av organisationens kultur och ledarskap.

At the recently held EFQM 2021 Virtual Forum, I had the opportunity to hear from Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School, speaking about the myths of disruption. His speech was somewhat comforting.

His speech questioned the popular apocalyptic message for today’s organizations to innovate or die, transform or disappear, intensely reinforced by the 2020 pandemic crisis and its effects. In his presentation, he did not only deny that total disruption occurs occasionally (as happened with Blockbuster, Kodak and Nokia), but also affirmed that new technologies will coexist with established ones, through hybrid responses (as has happened in the hotel, taxi and retail banking sectors). Based on facts, he defended the thesis that, in the vast majority of cases, organizations have been able to adapt to the emergence of new technologies.

Our ecosystem and the megatrends that affect us

Nevertheless, Birkinshaw’s comforting message does not release us from our responsibility to understand our ecosystem, as well as to know the megatrends that can affect us. Disruptive thinking involves values ​​such as curiosity, restlessness, humility and a vocation for improvement, which are essential to face future challenges.

The future is uncertain and capricious. As we have learned: future is not always what it seems it will be. There are numerous examples of disruptive trends or technologies that were expected to mark the future and that have ended up disappearing or being irrelevant, while others have suddenly burst in to stay. Faced with this situation, one of the main antidotes we have is observation. We must pay attention to our surroundings. Awareness is necessary.

Faced with this situation, one of the main antidotes we have is observation. We must pay attention to our surroundings. Awareness is necessary.

An organization that aspires to endure over time, to be recognized as a benchmark and leader in its ecosystem, needs to be up to date with the latest trends and innovation opportunities. Also, benchmarking is essential. That is, to have relevant external comparisons to evaluate its own performance.

Organizations that do not feed their management with external references end up exercising endogamous management. Organizations that look outward manage to drink from heterogeneous sources that enrich their management capacity by stimulating creativity and innovation. Diversity is a great source of inspiration and learning. As Steve Jobs said, ”creativity is connecting things.”

Benchmarking should be part of the organization’s culture

Although most organizations understand the importance of benchmarking, for many of them it is still a pending issue and they fail to integrate it into their management in an effective and sustainable way. The reason is that it is valued as a management tool or technique, rather than as a part of the organization’s culture and leadership. The challenge of benchmarking does not lie in execution, but rather in not limiting it to specific actions. To integrate it effectively, benchmarking must be in the DNA of the organization, in the work dynamics and in all management areas. It must be a habit at the highest leadership levels, so it impacts on the behaviour of individuals and on the teams’ dynamics. Benchmarking should be part of the organization’s culture.

Disruptive thinking can be trained by changing behaviours, and some of them are related to the habit of comparing yourself and being interested in the latest trends. For this, it is necessary to understand and work on benchmarking as an element of the culture and leadership of organizations.

Pau Negre, CEO at Comtec Quality

Kind regards,

Pau Negre, CEO at Comtec Quality, Spain