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On January 2, 2013 | 0 Comments

Interview with Andre de Waal

AndredeWaalWhat is your book about?
My latest book, “What Makes a High Performance Organization: Five Validated Factors of Competitive Advantage that Apply Worldwide,” published by Global Professional Publishing, shows companies how they can achieve dramatically better financial and non-financial results than their competitors over 5-10 years by transforming themselves into “HPOs,” i.e., High-Performance Organizations. To write this book I reviewed 290 studies of business high performance and excellence and surveyed 1475 organizations in 50 different countries. In doing so, I created a collection of in-depth case studies of HPOs representing nearly every continent. I also show that the HPO Framework, which I devised, will help organizations improve their performance, as long as they diligently work on improving the five HPO Factors I identified.

What inspired you to write your book?
I have had a life-long passion for discovering what makes organizations tick and what mechanisms make these organizations succeed … or not. Since starting my research journey to discover ‘the secret of HPOs” way back in 2003 I have discovered so many interesting facts and have experienced so many interesting people and organizations, that I felt I had to share this with the world through writing this book. The more people that read the book and, especially, the more readers that are going to practice the five HPO factors, the better the business world will become—which will benefit us all.

How did you come to do what you’re doing today?
After obtaining my PhD in 2002 on the topic of performance-driven behavior, I felt there was still much more to discover about ways to achieve high performance. And as I suffer from ‘incurable curiosity’ I just had to go on this research journey. And even though I have now written this book, I am sure there are many more things to discover – and write about – in the future.

Can you describe a typical day in your life?
I do so many different things – researching, teaching at universities, consulting with clients, speaking on conferences, travelling abroad to study companies – that there is no typical day. Or maybe better put: a typical day for me is that it is not typical!

What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Discovering new knowledge every day and spreading it to other people.

Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?
In retrospect the first business book I ever read for my MBA – as I was a chemistry major I had never seen such a book before – was In “Search Of Excellence” of Tom Peters & Robert Waterman and that must have set my own research eventually in motion. I am also inspired by people like my country men Geert Hofstede and Manfred Kets de Vries who as academics have been able to appeal to millions worldwide with their research and who are still going strong in the academic and managerial debate.

Can you share some business tips for our readers?
I’ll share with you the qualities that I have seen successful people in HPOs posses: unbridled passion and enthusiasm. If you have that and feel and show it in everything you do there is no doubt in my mind that you will be successful at any venture you undertake.

Can you share something that people might be surprised to learn about you?
I always write while playing music, preferably loud music. Especially the German band Rammstein helps keep up a high tempo while typing away. Check them out, but don’t blame me when you get a headache!

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am currently working on research into high performance partnerships, as I have found that HPOs want to improve the complete value chain in which they operate. In addition, I will go on tour to speak to as many people as I can about HPO and the book, to spread the HPO thinking all over the world.


André deWaal MSC MBA PhD is academic director of the HPO Center, the Netherlands, and associate professor HPO of the Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands. His new book is titled What Makes a High Performance Organization, Five Validated Factors of Competitive Advantage that Apply Worldwide (Global Professional Publishing, 2012). André can be reached via

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