André de Waal

André de Waal, PhD, MBA, MSc, is Academic Director of theHPO Center, an organization which conducts research into high performance organizations. He is also Associate Professor of High Performance Organizations at the Maastricht School of Management, guest lecturer at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam, and visiting fellow at Cranfield University (United Kingdom). André has conducted several years of scientific research, examining 290 international studies and analyzing studies in 50 countries involving over 1,470 profit, non-profit and government organizations.

Articles by André de Waal

Benefits, Rewards & Recognition

Do Bonuses Matter? They Do If Part of a Fair and Equitable Rewards System

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Ever since financial scandals rocked the business world and the worldwide financial crisis that followed, the role of reward systems in business has become a divisive issue.

On one side are the proponents of bonuses who state that emphasis on monetary rewards increases productivity and organizational performance. On the other side are the opponents of bonuses and monetary rewards who state that bonuses create higher pay inequality and can result in higher turnover.

However, a key question regarding bonuses is often overlooked: How important is handing out bonuses for an organization to become and stay successful for a longer period of time? Read more…

HR Management, Leadership

Why Good Management Just Makes Good Sense

© Andres Rodriguez -

Recently I read a newspaper article titled, “Managing? What Nonsense!” In this article, the writer joins the chorus in lamenting the uselessness of managers, stating that the position of manager should be abolished as quickly as possible.

According to this writer, managers are not the reason for organizational success at all but, instead, it is about people “following their own sense.” To this, I in turn reply: “What utter nonsense!” because simply trusting your own sense without employing a solid foundation from which to depart is never advisable.

Interestingly enough, the writer first quite correctly states that for many improvement theories, “empiric evidence” is lacking and that organizations become more productive when they apply such-and-such a theory. He offers examples from the work of Stephen Covey, Philip Kotler and Jim Collins, for which he is correct, there indeed is no evidence to support the idea that their theories will actually work. In some instances, in fact, it has even been scientifically shown that the research underlying these works isn’t valid. Read more…

Culture, Talent Management

How to Inspire and Motivate High Performance Employees

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To become an HPO (a High Performance Organization) it is a precondition to hire and retain the right employees. ]

These are people who have an incurable curiosity, want to be challenged, need to have responsibility and at the same time ask to be held accountable, and want to perform better — everywhere and anytime. These high performance employees perform better than the average employee, and because of that, contribute more to the effectiveness of the organization.

With this type of employees, an organization can transform into a true High Performance Organization.

But, you need to inspire them. Read more…

HR Insights, HR Management, News

The High Performance Organization: Is it Being Driven by HR or the CFO?


When looking at organizations that have started transitioning to high performance using the HPO (high performance organization) Framework, one thing can be noticed: there is at least one person present who is the promoter of HPO thinking in the organization.

That person takes the position of advocate and champion of HPO and makes sure that people get and stay excited about the prospect of becoming a world-class organization. This is a person who doesn’t give up, takes hindrances in stride, keeps at it, and finds great satisfaction in seeing the organization and its people improve over time.

That person, preferably, is placed high enough in the organization so he has enough power to exact resources and time for the HPO transition activities, and to hold other people accountable for their actions during the transition. The big question of course is: who ideally should be the spider of the HPO web? Read more…

Culture, Leadership

The High Performance Organization: Does Your Organization Measure Up?

High performance organization (HPO)

More and more organizations express their drive in annual reports, adverts and websites to turn into a High Performance Organization (HPO). But what does ‘becoming an HPO’ really mean? What are all those ambitious organizations talk about?

Here at the HPO Center, we define a High Performance Organization as follows:

A High Performance Organization is an organization that achieves financial and non-financial results that are exceedingly better than those of its peer group over a period of time of five years or more, by focusing in a disciplined way on that what really matters to the organization.”

How does your firm measure up to this definition? If you’re not sure, let’s pick apart this definition so you can know where you stand. Read more…

HR Management, Leadership

If You’re Using These Management Methods, You’re Wasting Time AND Money


Organizations that aim to earn the label HPO, or “High Performance Organization,” can draw upon literally hundreds of management techniques, methods and activities to help them reach this enviable stature.

Most seem perfectly reasonable things to do except for one “minor” detail: in most cases, there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that any of them will actually improve performance in the short term, let alone in the long term, let alone at all!

It’s difficult to figure out which of these methods are genuinely important for an organization to embark upon in its quest for HPO status. That’s why in my extensive global research of 290 HPO studies, I attempted to resolve this dilemma by identifying 189 characteristics in the various descriptive literature, then evaluating and comparing them all to 35 tried-and-true HPO characteristics. Below is a partial list of what I found out NOT to do. Read more…