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The Four M's of Performance

Posted by Chip Block on January 29, 2019 10:25 AM EST
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Most everyone is familiar with the "Four P's of Marketing", so I thought it would be fun to share thinking on the ......

.....Four M's of Performance.

Basic marketing theory has for years taught the philosophy of the four P's of marketing.  In fact, it's still sound logic even in today's ever-changing marketing world of traditional media and social media, pricing models including "free", distribution channels and partners who are at the same time e-commerce titans like Amazon and new channels such as the Internet and product proliferation gone crazy.  Despite these radical changes and complexity, the "Four P's" still resonates as a reasonable and reliable framework to think through marketing and sales strategies.

That said, the three of us bloggers on this site/hub/platform-Joe, me and Thomas-agree that a similar framework to understand the levers and triggers that drive bold improvements in performance is a worthwhile idea.  For example, if we want to explore big improvements in healthcare services or in driving improvements in health or recovery, then understanding three or four key elements of that and analyzing actions or proposed actions against those levers could have value.

So, given that background, and based on quite a bit of reading and discussion amongst ourselves, here are my suggestions for the "Four M's of Performance".  They are money, meaning, mastery and modeling.


For many individuals and organizations, the pursuit of the almighty dollar drives tremendous energy around new actions and motivations.  In a free-enterprise economy, pursuing wealth and driving improvements in cash-flow bring about lots of new ideas and leverage human talent, technology and alternative models to getting work done.


As powerful as money is in terms of being a driver of change and creating breakthrough levels of activity, new ideas and the pursuit of productivity, for many people and organizations-especially nonprofits and NGOs-the pursuit of meaning, doing well by doing good, can drive remarkable focus, persistence and improvements in execution, effectiveness, and efficiency.  Meaning as a concept sometimes trumps money, while arguably the combination of the two are important ingredients in building momentum,, synergy and leveraging new ideas.


Most experts will say that the pursuit of excellence and breakthrough achievement will be a component of the other two factors-money and meaning.  Nonetheless, there are many outstanding performers in sports, academia, sciences, and the arts whose focus on being the best and being considered a master of their craft is far more important than the money or meaning alone can bring.  For these individuals and organizations, the relentless pursuit of legacy based on performance and mastery IS the reason for the season.


Of the four pillars of performance, modeling is arguably the least powerful or common among high performers.  In fact, the three of us bloggers have argued that it is too weak of a driver to be included as part of the formula for motivators or triggers of high performance of individuals and/or organizations.  However, our research has found that there are many high performing entities whose primary focus is the set the pace and to be the measure by which others can follow to create ever-increasing levels of output.  Space exploration and many forms of scientific pursuit fit this formula.  After some debate, we agreed to include this fourth dimension-modeling-as worthy even though in many cases it may be a subset of one or more of the other three drivers-money, meaning or mastery.

So, there you have it!  A simple framework to assess how an organization's actions may measure up against the four pillars or one's individual factors can be improved to drive overall performance on a sustained and scalable way.  Like all theory, this model has some value but continuing to refine it or experiment with its usefulness will over time prove its validity or worth as a tool for driving greater performance on dimensions that matter.

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