Leadership strategy benchmarking

Sequential Excellence Model

We have classified our selection of models along the main schools of thought, or fashions in thinking, we identified since management theory emerged after the Industrial Revolution:

  1. The genius of the Great Entrepreneurs (most prominent 1850-1940) who created modern and highly successful business (like Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan),
  2. Measuring results through 'scientific management'; (most prominent 1900-1930, yet still with us): business starts to be studied, with man being measured as a machine (often referred to as 'Taylorism'),
  3. Acknowledging human potential and human relationships (since the 1920s), when Elton Mayo observed in the Hawthorne Studies that people don't behave like machines,
  4. Strategic planning envisioned in terms of 'the art of war' (prominent 1960-1980), when (big) business was run and analysed as an army at war,
  5. Putting the customer first (since the 1980s), to get really close to the customer and stay there, the relationship manager became the norm,
  6. Globalism and diversity (gained prominence from the late 1980s onwards), when organizations recognised that cross-cultural competencies and diversity became essential for success,
  7. 'Greed is good' (very prominent from the 1980s until 2007) the fall of the Soviet Union released a wave of euphoria; 'real capitalism, without let or hindrance, could take over the world',
  8. 3Ps: People, Planet, Profit (since the 1970s, but dominating since the twenty first century) the organization and its leaders as stewards of the Environmental Ecosystem, when sustainability, moral purpose and reputation reached the executive agenda.

We have tried to use these historical lessons as a framework for our selection of models, whereby we encourage to continuously reconcile the dilemmas that emerge from all these different views on organizational challenges. We therefore created the following Sequential Excellence Cycle. All these phases have their respective strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. All elements are needed and must work in harmony and reconciliation. No element of the cycle is less vital than another.

Element Cycle

We can see from the Excellence Framework above that there are eight fashions in management science that are restructured in seven elements, which are bound and guided by an eight element. Each business fashion has its own business models, which are linked to the parts of the excellence model

Fashion 1 'the creative power of Entrepreneurship' has become Element 2 'Innovation and entrepreneurship'.

Fashion 2 'focussing on results through scientific management' has become Element 7 'Benchmarking and Results'.

Fashion 3 'discovering human potential as crucial for success' has become Element 6 human resource management'.

Fashion 4 'the CEO as a strategist of a large organisation' becomes Element 3 'strategy and positioning'.

Fashion 5 'customer is king and quality is crucial' becomes Element 5 'customers'.

Fashion 6 'the rise of internationalization and globalisation' has become Element 4 'diversity of cultures'.

Fashion 7 'leaders functioning on behalf of shareholders' is combined with Element 7 'benchmarking and results'.

Fashion 8 'People, Planet, Profit'; has become Element 1 'sustainability', as it is now the dominant paradigm and starting point for most organisational leaders.

Finally, we found that knowledge on the power of leadership and communication enables to move organisations continuously along the historical lessons and dilemmas that characterise each fashion in management theory. The aim is that each time all steps in the circle are completed, the organisation has learnt more so that it can enter a new review of the circle, as if it's a staircase towards more organisational effectiveness, or an organically developing DNA-string of knowledge: Element 8 'leadership and communication'.