Peak Performance


Challenged with budget shortfalls and economical mayhem from the recent 2007-2011 financial crisis, Peak Performance founders Brian Elms, Brendan Hanlon, David Edinger and Scotty Martin discovered an interesting phenomenon:Peak Performancegive your front-line the power to innovate, and it worked.

With great support from Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, The Denver Peak Academy was founded in 2011. Peak Performance: How Denver’s Peak Academy is saving millions of dollars, boosting moral and just maybe changing the world. (And how you can, too!) is an engaging book depicting a collection of innovative stories that leads the reader to understand some of the trials and tributes that the Peak team have endured.

If you are looking for a “Dummies” book on how to start your own Peak Academy, this is not it. Those books work great for teaching us how to perform math equations or drive a car. Nevertheless, creating a culture for innovation is not as simple as putting your car in gear and driving away into the sunset–even then can that activity be blinding. Creating a culture for innovation requires a series of shared stories, some of which Elms and Wogan (2016) highlight in this book.

With titles like, “Just What is This ‘Peak’ Thing?”, to “Red Bouncy Ball Crap” and “Forget the Fro-yo”, Elms and Wogan (2016) realistically describe the foundation of the Denver Peak Academy’s principles. Stories, such as fifty parking enforcement attendants running around searching for their government-issued vehicle, to printing a five-hundred page report just for the final six pages, help us understand that these are real people facing real challenges. These stories, and the innovations that followed, are shared as victories and not as reprimands. “Our team shares stories and data on a regular basis to encourage people to keep innovating” (Elms & Wogan, 2016, p. 28).

“All these modes of communication try to convey how Peak enables employees to make their jobs better. We’re not asking people to believe in some new-age philosophy. We’re asking them to fix what bugs them. When they run into trouble, we’ll be there to help. That’s why it works.”

Looking for more? Read an excerpt from the book at Governing.com.

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