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(… but not in the sense of this photo!)

Easy to say performance!

How do we measure it? And, specifically, performance in relation to what? The two aspects are obviously related, and all depends on the context and the objectives.

Without bothering our friend Albert (Einstein) and his theories on general and special relativity, it’s clear that the meaning of this term needs to be contextualized.

As you certainly understand, and as I anticipated in the introductory post to this series, here we are talking about organizations and their marketing mindset, whether profit or non-profit, small or large, private or public.

It’s also clear that, depending on the type of organization, its objectives and their relative importance will change (again with relativity!), and it’s probably time to attempt a definition of “performance“ that could be suitable for organizations.

Although the literal definition of performance (from late Latin to ancient French, and finally to Anglo-Saxon uses) mainly refers to actions and activities of “performing, doing something” more than to their outcomes, if it’s ok for you I would suggest “results in relation to objectives”, definition that should fit well regardless of context and, in any case, would be suitable in organizational contexts.

Personally, since I’m a little maniac of measurements (like my colleagues!), I prefer operational definitions like this one rather than relatively abstract or neutral descriptions, even though I know very well that we can talk about performance in relation to “simple” activities, such as that of Elvis (my idol since childhood) in the 1970 concert in Las Vegas, when most of you weren’t even born.

I realize that this entire discussion could be seen as a “mental masturbation”, but I promise that next time, when I’ll introduce the concept of “function”, everything will be more practical and, hopefully, useful.


… by the way, this is the first of a series of 8 posts that, in my intention and in those of my friends and colleagues Alfonso Pace and Virgilio Gay (they wrote on the same subjects, and you can find their versions, in Italian, at should have – and still should – anticipate the new edition of the now elderly text, currently out of print, reminded in this photo.

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