The Four Habits of Highly Effective Organizations

Of course you want to turn your operation into a top performer—and like most managers, you’ve probably been exposed to numerous workshops, training sessions, and corporate retreats (not to mention being required to read the Stephen Covey bestseller “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”) for this purpose. We suspect, however, that these exercises have been neither easy nor wildly effective. One strategy that you may want to consider is the DCOM model developed by CLG, a global consulting firm based in Pittsburgh.

The acronym DCOM stands for direction, competence, opportunity, and motivation, according to CLG analysts James Hillgren and Steve Jacobs. In an article on high-performance organizations, Hillgren and Jacobs note that most outstanding companies display those four attributes. Although DCOM is easy to describe, implementing the model requires considerable forethought, planning, effort, and often, radical changes in organizational behavior. The four elements of the model can be summarized as follows:

Direction: Does everyone in the organization clearly understand what is most important? Competence: Do the organization and its individuals have the capability to achieve the company’s vision? Opportunity: Are adequate resources available and are obstacles to performance removed? Motivation: Do people want to do the right things, and are the consequences of action aligned with the company’s direction?

Hillgren and Jacobs point out that perhaps the best way to test the model’s effectiveness is to see what happens if any of its components are weak or missing:

If you have competence, opportunity, and motivation, but lack direction—you get chaos!

If your operation has all three elements except competence, it will eventually end up bankrupt because well-directed, highly motivated people with resources drive the company into the ground.

If opportunity is weak, even the best performers get frustrated because they lack the time, tools, and authority to remove barriers or perform optimally.

If motivation is low, performers become lethargic. They display almost no extra effort, because the consequences for going that extra step are ambiguous, meaningless, or even unpleasant.

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