August 21, 2014

Performance Excellence

As unit-based teams engage in performance improvement work, they help build a culture of performance excellence. Every employee, manager and care provider at Kaiser Permanente has accountability for improved practice and performance. When staff members are engaged in the improvement process, work becomes more meaningful.

The culture of an organization is a collection of behaviors, attitudes and values that form a pattern over time.

How will you know when you have a performance excellence culture? 

  • When performance excellence behaviors are regularly observed in staff.
  • When performance excellence tools and training are used regularly by frontline staff.
  • When performance excellence values are clearly communicated by walking the talk.
  • When relevant data and information is made readily available to frontline staff.
  • When performance excellence work is routine and becomes "core" to day-to-day duties.
  • When no one thinks, "It's not my problem," "I did my part" or "I'm done."
  • When performance excellence language is commonplace.
  • When there is a climate of trust and open sharing toward performance excellence. 

Performance Excellence Behaviors

High-performing organizations share six key qualities. Part of the process for achieving performance excellence at Kaiser Permanente is developing and maintaining these attributes. Sponsors have a key role to play in developing the capabilities in themselves, in their co-leads and within the overall organization.

Leadership priority setting

  • Leadership team is engaged and aligned.
  • Sets clear priorities based on vital few breakthrough performance areas.
  • Priority areas focus on clinical, financial, employee and member/patient indicators. 

View the system as a process

  • Organization leadership teams identify core business processes.
  • Aligns improvement priorities based on vital business needs. 

Measurement capability

  • Set outcomes and improvement process metrics for key areas.
  • Establish performance targets to achieve best in class/national best.
  • Use balanced scorecard system to make process performance a priority. 

Learning organization

  • Surface best practices based on evidence of performance.
  • Share, learn and spread performance capability across enterprise.
  • Focus on top-down and bottom-up execution.

Improvement capability

  • Create improvement infrastructure and staff.
  • Able to execute from testing through spread of practice at all levels.
  • Unified internal methodology for improvement representing multiple methods.
  • Improvement skills applied immediately to improvement priority. 

Engagement and culture

  • Leaders walk around and understand local level work.
  • Communicate often and visibly about how the improvement efforts of staff members connect to organizational priorities. 
  • Use of improvement training to teach staff members about system mission and priorities, create safe space to explore and learn. 

For an easy-to-print version of the information on this page, download the Creating a Performance Excellence Culture tool.