Organization Optimization Through People Optimization

Posted & filed under HR Elevated.

It’s quite insightful to comb through Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For and compare each one to the top financial and growth performers in their industry. Interestingly enough, they are either at or near the top of their industry’s list. I’m convinced there is not only a correlation but a cause and effect relationship. Some argue that the causal relationship goes from success to taking care of their people. Personally, I’ve never experienced such a relationship, nor have I read any research that supports such a claim. Let’s look at the more obvious relationship—achieving organizational optimization through people optimization.

What does it mean to optimize an organization? Let’s start with the central point in this phrase—optimization or optimize. To optimize is to make as effective, perfect or useful as possible or to make the best of. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say that most of us are striving to do that very thing for each of our organizations. Leaders and committed professionals are especially driven to make an organization as effective, perfect or useful as possible without trying to turn it into something it is not. If we are in agreement with this point, let’s turn to people.

Given ‘optimizing’ is the keyword, doesn’t it stand to reason that we would use the same definition of the word? In this case, the definition means we are looking to help our people make themselves as effective, perfect or useful as possible without trying to become something s/he is not. If we are in agreement, then we can move on to understanding what optimizing the one has to do with optimizing the other.

Simply stated, as go the people, so goes the organization. The key is the alignment of clearly defined objectives, expectations and rewards between each level and area of the organization and the people throughout. Keep in mind we are not merely talking about success, being good or better. Optimization is about being the best we can be at any time and achieving our full potential. As the organization is optimized through the people, as goes the organization, so goes the people. In other words, as we optimize our people, we initiate a positive reciprocal relationship between the people and the organization.

In addition to the alignment of current objectives, expectations and rewards, it is imperative that the continued and accelerating movement of this optimization flywheel, (thanks to Jim Collins for the use of this metaphor) is fueled by an organizational commitment to continuous people development aligned to the long-term strategy.

Please share your thoughts on this approach and what you are doing in your world to optimize your organization through optimizing your people.

– Wayne DavisVP of Talent Development




As a Talent Management/HR executive with over 20 years of talent and human resource management experience, I strive to deliver value generating services to internal and external clients. This has provided me with the ability to lead or influence people in developing solutions to achieve higher levels of measurable success. My professional interests are targeted toward helping clients achieve their optimum performance through people solutions.