The Human Performance Framework


The Human Performance Framework provides a holistic approach for understanding all of the forces and elements that impact an individual's abilities and motivations. It is only by understanding those forces in their totality that an organization can optimize human performance.
Subjects: Organizational Behavior, Strategy/Frameworks
Source: "Maximizing Your Return on Investment in Human Performance" by Terence V. Neill and Martin H. Borell | Accenture Outlook Journal, June 1999 (visit original source)  

The Human Performance Framework provides a holistic approach for understanding all of the forces and elements that impact an individual’s abilities and motivations. Only by understanding those forces in their totality can an organization optimize human performance.

What does the framework tell us that we didn’t already know? In fact, there is nothing new in any isolated aspect of the framework. What is new is the holistic approach it provides to the challenge of optimizing human performance. No one piece by itself will accomplish the goal. Just as an understanding of the whole human anatomy is required for a physician to diagnose and treat ailments, so is an understanding of the entire system of human performance necessary for an executive to diagnose a company’s condition and make it healthy.

The Human Performance Framework has a number of benefits:

  • Common Language and Understanding. The Human Performance Framework provides a common language by which people in different functions within a company can discuss the human dimension. The common understanding of what human performance really means can lead to some significant insights.
  • A Rigorous Organizing Principle. As with any field in its infancy, the study of human and organizational performance has sometimes been seen as more art than science: If approaches to technology have been “hard,” then approaches to people have been “soft.” This is often justified by a belief in the unpredictable nature of people, and in the need to influence human performance not as engineers but as something more like orchestra conductors or theater directors.
  • As it turns out, though, the field just hadn’t yet acquired the experience necessary to begin synthesizing repeatable frameworks for solutions. Indeed, there is a great deal of science behind the Human Performance Framework. To be sure, people are not inanimate “technology” boxes. But we know a lot about what makes people tick, and the framework organizes that knowledge into something we can apply with rigor.

  • Tracking the Interactions. The framework ensures that complex interactions, or actions with multiple consequences, are not ignored when designing a new performance environment.
  • A Diagnostic Tool. The framework acts as a “completeness check” for a human-performance environment.
  • Consistent, Standard Development. The framework should not be thought of as a methodology for designing a human-performance solution. It is, however, a framework to guide development—again, serving as a completeness check, making sure that all necessary and appropriate aspects of the entire system of performance are being considered.

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