“A placebo is a deceptive cure for a disease or other medical condition that is simulated or otherwise medically ineffective. Patients who receive a placebo treatment may experience a perceived or real improvement in their medical condition, a phenomenon known as the placebo effect.”
In medicine, the placebo effect has been shown to have physical and physiological benefits. In the field of company performance management, however, could there be a placebo effect? When searching for ways to boost results, there are two traditional business placebos to switch to. The performance reporting placebo and the technical placebo are two different types.
The first – performance reporting placebo – is as follows: a company creates new predictions, updated expectations, new key performance indicator (KPI) concepts, new forms of data analytics, and so on.
People congregate around the latest performance update or survey, consoling one another. However, it’s always the same data framed in a different way. It may seem to be an improvement, and the resulting boost in motivation may result in short-term improvements in efficiency – but has it changed the results or only the way the results are displayed or manipulated? Is this genuine medicine or a placebo?
Another form of placebo that is often used in the world of business development is the technical placebo. People may believe that real progress is being made when a new technology is seen as cutting edge. That may be true in some cases; when used properly, technology can boost performance. Similarly to updated performance reports, there could be an increase in productivity as people become more enthusiastic about what they’re doing because it’s different.
To get the most out of your investment, accept placebos and search for new ways to harness and maximise benefits to help you achieve your goals. This way, an efficient approach can be incorporated to help and visualise the required changes. Many times, the improvements needed to achieve business improvement are found in the people who work for us. The human aspect of change and culture enters the picture at this stage.