Book report: Primed to Perform – Introduction

Reading notes by Yan Tougas


This book is about creating high-performance cultures.  Culture acts as a primer to performance.  The right culture leads to high performance.  High-performance cultures financially outperform others.  In mediocre cultures, the best laid plans often fail.

There are two types of performance:
  • Tactical performance: the ability to execute against a plan
  • Adaptive performance: the ability to diverge from a plan
A single-minded focus on tactical performance (present in most organizations) can cripple adaptive performance.

Building a culture is not magic.  There is a science to it.  Which means cultures can be measured.  Building a high-performance culture is an intentional act.  It doesn’t happen accidentally.

Why you work affects how well you work.  There are six basic motives behind people’s work:

  • Play
  • Purpose
  • Potential
  • Emotional pressure
  • Economic pressure
  • Inertia

The first three strengthen performance.  The last three weaken it.  The best motivation is inspiration.  Inspiration to find play, purpose, and potential in work.  This is called Total Motivation (“ToMo”).  The best workers are the ones who work for the pure joy of working.  And ToMo positively affects all stakeholders, not just employees.

An organization lacking shared values often turns to money as the value holding the firm together.  Money is a weak glue.  It is an indirect motivator.  High-performance cultures realize that purpose, not profit, is the reason a company exists.

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