A year of outperformance


It was a year of political surprises and relatively benign economic growth, where businesses could no longer achieve double-digit growth by simply riding the economic wave. That’s why 2016 was the year of understanding performance – sharing the secrets of successful firms, operating models and platforms for growth.

No matter what high performance means to you, it will take a relentless focus on efficiency, and a willingness to try something new. So in case you missed anything, here’s a quick guide to the best insights of the year.

It all starts with a plan...

Strategy and leadership were a key focus of April's Macquarie Business Forum, where we shared a simple framework for creating a high performance organisation. Strategy, external focus and leadership make up the roof of our ‘high performance house’ – but taking the time out of the day to day can be a challenge.

That’s where our practical guide to running a strategy day can help. Maximising your team’s offsite time for generating ideas and solving problems may mean ditching the SWOT analysis and 100-slide PowerPoint deck, and packing a lot of Post-it notes. To focus your tactical plan on high impact initiatives, place your core objective at the centre of a bullseye and see how close all those tactical ideas come to hitting the mark. 

As a leader on strategy day, and every other day at work, think of your role as ‘Designer-in-Chief’. You don’t need all the answers. You just need to ask the right questions so your team can respond creatively.

If we’ve learned anything from 2016, it is that technological change is now business as usual in just about every industry.

Customers are driving change and growth

This was also the year of customer-first centricity, from the rise of the CCO (or Chief Customer Officer) to understanding the new rules of customer loyalty.

With the latest research revealing emotional loyalty – loyalty beyond reason – has the most value for business referrals and advocacy, it’s the ‘random acts of generosity’ that can have most cut-through. From AAMI’s Lucky Club to North Face’s VIPeak program, experiences trump transactional points. And that could be as simple as making personal recognition more visible.

Customers also hold the clues to new revenue streams or efficiency improvements. Working out where the friction is in any process for customers – and fixing it – not only improves their experience (and subsequent loyalty). It can also reveal genuine needs for technological change or innovation.

After all, the most successful disruptors have simply met a customer need that has not yet been served by the established market.

New ways to empower your people

People are still the most valuable asset in your business – and for high performing businesses, that starts with a culture that empowers people to reach (and even outperform) their potential.

This year, we also looked into new models for staffing, including the rise of the freelancer. Hiring consultants ‘on demand’ can be a more cost-effective way of bringing senior expertise into your business when you need it – plus it can help you flex your workforce up and down quickly to meet natural business cycles.

With 30% of Australia’s workforce now contingent workers in this ‘gig economy’ there is talent out there you can't afford to ignore.

And once you have your team in place, how do you help them get even more out of every hour of every day? These 14 high productivity tools are the answer. From apps to do things faster and better (like Xero) to smart project workflow platforms (like Trello), cut email in half (hello, Slack), and make your paperless office work seamlessly (Dropbox, Docusign and more), these intuitive apps can slash admin time, fuel smarter collaboration and even make everyday tasks a little more fun.

If we've learned anything from 2016, it is that technological change is now business as usual in just about every industry. And that can be empowering, if you're willing to use it to your advantage in the year ahead.

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