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Developing a change approach for the transition to a high performance organization

André de Waal (HPO Center, Hilversum, The Netherlands, and Partner at Statmind Management Research and Development BV, Maastricht, The Netherlands)
Ivo Heijtel (Ferment Management Consultancy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The purpose of this study is to help managers in their constant quest to create and implement new sources of competitive advantage and ways to achieve sustainable high performance to become a high performance organization (HPO) – defined as an organization that achieves financial and non-financial results that are exceedingly better than those of its peer group over a period of five years or more to by focusing in a disciplined way on issues of genuine importance to the organization. One way to become an HPO is by applying the HPO Framework, which has been validated in multiple countries and shown to indeed help organizations to improve their performance. However, a change approach for implementing the HPO Framework that is valid in different contexts has not been developed to date. Such an approach is important as change initiatives suffer from a high failure rate.


The goal of this research was to identify an appropriate change approach for implementing the HPO Framework. A theoretical framework for an HPO change initiative was constructed, which subsequently was tested at an organization undergoing a transformation to become an HPO.


The results show that the theoretical approach in practice was indeed useful at the case company. A continuous rate of change is needed to implement a corporate-wide change strategy that will enable the organization to constantly adapt to the demands of its business environment. The scale of the transformation differs for each HPO change initiative, depending on the results of the HPO diagnosis. Directly after the HPO diagnosis and at the beginning of the HPO transformation, a planned approach predominates; conversely, while maintaining the HPO, the emergent approach predominates.

Research limitations/implications

This study is relevant by enabling managers to learn the essentials of a change approach for creating an HPO in the present-day business environment. Based on these essentials, managers can start to develop a change approach that is appropriate for creating their own HPO.


The theoretical relevance of this paper is that, although much literature exists concerning approaches for organizational change initiatives, no change approaches specifically designed for creating an HPO can be found in the literature. This paper provides such an approach.



de Waal, A. and Heijtel, I. (2017), "Developing a change approach for the transition to a high performance organization", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 101-116.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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