Organisational Potential

Organisational Potential

“I’m always disappointed when people don’t live up to their potential. I know that a number of people look down on themselves and consequently on everybody who looks like them. But that, too, can change.” ~ Maya Angelou

A lot of attention has been given over the years to the art and science of measuring organisational performance. From balanced scorecards, to OKRs, to KPIs and KRAs. In accounting terms there are even more terms and measurement methods that you, most of which focus on how effectively a company can use its assets to generate revenue… But very little attention has been given to organisational potential.

I think this is a major oversight.

In management terms, when we think about our employees, our team members, even ourselves, we’re interested in not only how they currently perform – whether they meet their objectives – but also whether they have potential to grow and achieve even more. Many organisations (though probably not enough) try to identify their high potential employees so that their development can be fast tracked… something usually nested within the domain of the HR department.

Why don’t we care about organisational potential in the same way?

Surely it matters as least as much – if not more – than current performance?

What if you knew your organisation was only reaching 40% of its full potential? Wouldn’t that change the way you thought about strategy? About investment? About product development? About marketing?

To be fair, for-profit organisations will have an eye to potential markets. They will know their ‘market-share’ and likely see their potential in terms of the ability to reach a higher percentage of ‘available’ customers for their products or services… as though customers are empty vessels waiting to snap up your fantabulous product… if they only knew about it!

The reality is more complicated though. Consumer decisions are increasingly driven by more than whether or not the product does what it says on the can… with massive increases in interconnectivity and lowering barriers to entry for new players in your industry, they can shop around… and they can use their values to drive their decision making. Are you as sustainable as your competition? Are you as strong on diversity and inclusion as your competition? Are you leading the way in making positive change in the community you operate in? Are you influencing your sector to lift its game? Is your supply chain squeaky clean? If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to these questions, and others like them, then chances are some of your competitors can…

So achieving the dizzying heights of mass market penetration might not be as straightforward as increasing marketing expenditure or getting the right influencer to share your product on Instagram…

And besides, as Simon Sinek points out in his latest book, The Infinite Game, is that even the point?


Organisational Potential is something that I’m wanting to delve into in more depth. I think we’re missing the boat with lack-lustre organisations achieving mediocre things… What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Organisational Potential”

  1. I think it speaks to the shortsightedness and lack of forward planning of organisations in a lot of aspects, not just in the organisational potential of its people. It seems too scary for companies to make big investments for longer term gain. Instead they tend to favour easier, cheaper “quick wins” that lack true value and lasting impacts.

    • Hey Melanie – lovely to hear from you!
      Yes, I think you’re right, there’s a definite tendency towards short-termism, and I’m so pleased that authors like Simon Sinek are tackling such issues in really easy to understand terms – check out The Infinite Game, if you haven’t already!
      Best wishes


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