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Performance Principles &
Practices Canvas

In 2015, the Performance Improvement Council (PIC) staff set out to define the foundational aspects of performance management in government. We used our experience working with diverse Federal agencies to clarify our point of view about what it takes to not only achieve mission results, but actively manage ambitious agency and cross-governmental goals. We also reviewed our archive of interviews, summits, and working groups to reflect on what we’ve repeatedly heard from professionals who are committed to understanding, improving, and driving their agency’s performance.

We developed the P3 (Performance Principles & Practices) canvas to go beyond the legal requirements, and capture the capabilities and spirit of performance management and improvement. Anyone who has a role, whether that is at the department or team level, in implementing programs, initiatives, missions, and mission support can use it to identify what is and is not working well in how they manage their performance.

Each ‘wedge’ of the canvas provides a checklist and a few resources. Get started exploring P3 by clicking on one of the three colored wedges above. If you have a resource you can recommend or are want to work with us to create, please contact the staff at

The Performance Practices

The Performance Practices are the practices we do regularly to manage performance. These practices can be carried out daily, monthly, quarterly, annually or for multi-year efforts. We use these practices in combination to understand what we are facing, choose one or more paths forward, and carry out our intentions. They are not a cyclical or linear step-by-step approach: the very nature of managing and improving performance requires integrated practices. We isolated those practices to examine each more specifically, but they do not stand alone.

The Performance Principles

Putting your P3 plays into practice should not only build essential capability at your organization, but should also help cultivate performance culture. When performance becomes part of the “DNA” of a team or organization we typically see certain cultural elements welcomed and sustained. We are calling these elements “performance operating principles.” These principles are habits or beliefs that an organization can adopt in order to drive a performance-positive mindset among employees and create a culture that values performance management and improvement.


1. Performance Principle A: More than just compliance

list-item Our performance management activities are integrated with other lines of business.

list-item Teams working on performance collaborate regularly with business and program managers.

list-item Leaders talk about performance management as a way to drive results, not just meet a legal requirement.

list-item People at the HQ level and people at the Component level follow the same or very similar performance management processes.

list-item We have performance experts that we can ask for advice or assistance.


2. Performance Principle B: Results-Oriented Candor & Transparency

list-itemWe are encouraged to speak up when we have ideas about what should change.

list-itemAnyone internal or external to our organization could ask for and/or provide feedback about how a mission area is performing.

list-itemAnyone internal or external to our organization could easily find performance and organization data.

list-itemLeaders consistently talk about progress, results, and opportunities to get better.

list-itemWe like to share information with one another.


3. Performance Principle C: Healthy Attitude Towards Risk

list-itemWe set goals that we know may be a challenge to achieve.

list-item We have some flexibility in our plans, assessments, and decision-making to account for possible failures.

list-item We talk about how it is “safe to fail."

list-item Leaders protect people who take acceptable risks.

list-item We have clear guidelines about what is and isn’t considered an acceptable risk.


4. Performance Principle D: Positive Ownership & Accountability for Results

list-itemResults are included in our job descriptions.

list-itemAnyone at our organization could identify and explain what they are accountable for.

list-itemWe know how our work connects to mission priorities.

list-itemWe find ways to improve or advance our delivery methods.

list-item Leaders take responsibility for achieving performance outcomes.


5. Performance Principle E: Stakeholder & Customer Oriented

list-itemWe can receive or easily find information about customers.

list-itemWe pay attention to customer satisfaction data.

list-itemWe design our processes to suit various stakeholders or customer groups.

list-itemMultiple customer/stakeholder perspectives are included in our decision-making process.

list-itemLeaders talk about the value of customer and stakeholder needs.

list-itemWe see our stakeholders as our partners.

list-itemWe develop reviews, plans, and reports in coordination with multiple internal and external stakeholders.


4. Performance Principle F: Diverse, Collaborative Teams

list-itemWe include a variety of people from various professions and offices in our decision-making.

list-itemOur core team encourages divergent viewpoints and engages in healthy debate.

list-itemTeams, and teams are teams, have shared goals and share fully in our successes and failures..

list-itemWe actively build relationships with new partners and continually invest in relationships with current partners.

list-item We have a clear understanding of the ecosystem that we influence and are influenced by.

list-item Collaboration is the operating standard we aim for, over coordination or consensus.