Cutting Through: Your Company's High Performance Management System

Cutting Through: Your Company's High Performance Management System

by Bernie Haffey
Cutting Through: Your Company's High Performance Management System

Cutting Through: Your Company's High Performance Management System

by Bernie Haffey


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The financial health of your organization depends on it! Bernie Haffey’s Cutting Through is a comprehensive exploration into the nuances of the key high performance management systems that turn good companies into great ones!


Doctors, mechanics, pilots.... What do all of these professionals have in common? Simple: each operates within the framework of an established set of principles that guides all they do. Just as you wouldn’t build a house by first tacking on a roof, you can’t expect your business to flourish without understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive it.

You need a foundation, an order, a system.

Cutting Through is the blueprint to discovering and optimizing that system. The ideological quicksand of leadership trial-by-fire is gone. The best businesses of tomorrow will need to be equipped with a robust management system that drives performance from the ground up! How do you get there? Here’s a hint: you can’t intuit it, it’s going to take some work.

Keep reading to:
  • Discover the Six Pillars of a High Performance Management System
  • Understand the methodology behind building an effective coalition of in-house ambassadors that will champion your management values and ideals
  • Ascertain the significance of “the first follower”
  • Define and direct your company culture within the framework of your larger HPMS
  • Discover the power of the subtraction, elimination and simplification
  • Understand how some of the world’s leading companies like Ford, Medtronic, Ritz Carlton, IBM, Amazon and many others implemented their own HPMS
  • Learn how to pinpoint the Vital Few while incorporating the remainder into a unified, cohesive system
  • Achieve world-class customer, employee and financial results

Cutting Through is the comprehensive answer to the question: Why is my business underperforming, and more importantly, what can I do about it?

Eliminate, simplify and optimize your internal processes to achieve breakthrough business results!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781637350232
Publisher: Leaders Press
Publication date: 09/07/2021
Pages: 130
Sales rank: 1,013,403
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Bernie Haffey started his professional career as a physics teacher and ice hockey coach at Delbarton School in Morristown, NJ. This early experience in teaching, science, and team sports shaped much of his approach to business and many elements of his book, Cutting Through. Upon graduation from business school, he worked as a product manager in Hewlett-Packard’s Medical Products Group in Waltham, MA. He then moved to Mentor Corp, ascending from New England sales representative to Vice President of Sales and Marketing. From Mentor, he moved to Summit Technology, Inc., where he assumed the role of Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer through its $1 billion sale to Alcon Labs. Bernie held the same role, EVP and CCO, at Intralase Corp. through its $800 million sale to Advanced Medical Optics (now Johnson&Johnson). From there, he successfully served as President and CEO of two venture-backed start-ups: NDO Surgical, Inc. and Nexis Vision. Bernie also previously served as a founding board member at WaveTec Vision, Inc. (acquired by Alcon Labs) and at Ocular Therapeutix, Inc. (NASDAQ: OCUL), and currently serves on the board of On Target Laboratories, Inc. Bernie now runs Haffey&Co. (, a management consulting firm that has supported more than forty organizations in implementing HPMS and achieving breakthrough results. Bernie earned a BA from Colgate University and an MBA from Cornell University.

Read an Excerpt

The High Performance Management System

Are you a newly appointed leader of an organization in need of transformational change, a leader of an organization at a growth inflection point, or a leader of an early stage company in need of a solid foundation? If so, this book is for you. This book is also useful for aspiring leaders and managers of any organization. Once you learn the principles in this book and apply them through our management system, you will be well on your way to a dramatically different business.

I know this because I have participated as an executive and a consultant in numerous successful business turnarounds. The material in this book came from decades of experience—the teachers, mentors, and leaders that came before me; and the countless practitioners who have helped advance our management science and system.

My Introduction to the High Performance Management System (HPMS)

In September 1997, I joined the turnaround management team at Summit Technology, Inc. led by CEO Robert “Bob” Palmisano. Prior to Summit, I earned an MBA from a top school then worked my way up from a Product Manager role at Hewlett-Packard Co. to Vice President, Sales and Marketing of Mentor Corp.’s ophthalmic surgical business. So, by the time I arrived at Summit, I felt I knew something about leadership and management. Palmisano and a former Xerox executive named Richard “Dick” Palermo, completely and permanently changed this perspective.

Summit Technology was a Boston-area developer, manufacturer, and marketer of excimer laser systems initially targeted at cardiovascular disease. Under the brilliant technical leadership of founder and CEO David Muller, PhD, the company pivoted from cardiovascular to ophthalmic application of excimer and, in 1995, was first to receive FDA approval for photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) to correct myopia (nearsightedness). With a US market of 110 million (220 million eyes), the market was enormous. Summit was also successful in executing a unique and potentially profitable business model where users would purchase the laser for $500,000 and pay a $250 per-eye patent license fee. The large potential market, attractive business model, and charismatic CEO allowed for a successful initial public offering (IPO) in 1996, raising over $100 million in additional capital.

The Summit Apex Excimer Laser

With the IPO came high expectations, as much as 4 million procedures per year, for the highly lucrative procedure fees. Due to typical market adoption factors, however, procedures in the first year fell well short of expectations with a modest fifty-five thousand eyes treated in 1996. Summit responded to the pressures of the public market expectations by pointing to their customers, largely solo ophthalmic surgeon practices, for the shortfall. This in turn led the company to open nineteen company-owned Centers of Excellence in direct competition with their initial customers. The initial customers responded with vitriol and anger. Instead of helping their customers grow their businesses, Summit had put itself into direct competition with them. To further compound the problem, Summit had taken its “eye off the ball” and allowed VISX, Inc., its West Coast rival, to surpass them in technology, FDA approvals, and market share. The combination of disappointed shareholders and angry customers led Summit’s Board of Directors to replace Dr. Muller in 1997 with Robert Palmisano, formerly President of Bausch and Lomb’s Eyewear Division.

Palmisano quickly initiated a turnaround plan, which included divestiture of the company-owned centers; new executive leadership in marketing and sales, finance, manufacturing operations, regulatory and clinical affairs, and legal; and a mantra to “mean more to our customers.” I was fortunate to have been part of this team, starting in 1997 as Vice President of Marketing and Sales.

Palmisano also brought in Dick Palermo as our primary management consultant to assist us in adopting and implementing HPMS. Through this system, and a lot of hard work, we transformed Summit from a company with highly dissatisfied customers, unmotivated employees, and dissatisfied shareholders to a world-class entity in less than four years—culminating in a $972-million-dollar sale to Alcon Laboratories in 2000. This exit represented a nearly $900 million dollar increase in shareholder value—a result, I believe, which would not have been possible absent the choreography and discipline provided by HPMS.

I still recall Dick’s introduction of the HPMS to our executive team at an offsite meeting in December 1997. He spoke about the teachings of W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran, about the importance of culture and employee engagement, the need to see your business as a system of connected processes, and about the importance of process and leading indicators over the management of results.

At the first intermission, I went up to Dick and said, “I don’t know what the other functions are going to do, but effective today, this is how we are going to run Marketing and Sales.” In Deming terms, I had been “transformed” as an individual, and it was discontinuous! Over the next few years, we transformed Summit and I never looked back.

The system also transformed me as a manager and leader. Since 2000, I’ve implemented HPMS as a manager and primary consultant in over forty organizations—from large multinational corporations to small start-ups—often witnessing the same transformational results we enjoyed at Summit.

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