Summary of The Four Pillars of High Performance

How Robust Organizations Achieve Extraordinary Results: Lessons from the Rand Corporation

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The Four Pillars of High Performance book summary
Can your organization survive the unexpected? Only if it is alert, agile, adaptable and aligned for high performance.


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The RAND Corporation’s organizational strategy advice is based on more than 50 years of research. Author Paul C. Light draws from RAND studies primarily related to the U.S. military to explain the need for organizations to confront unavoidable change with alertness, agility, adaptability and alignment. He notes that these four attributes are equally valuable to small and large businesses, and to organizations of all kinds. You can apply each solid lesson Light takes from RAND’s studies to your organization’s structure and planning. In fact, some of his points are already common wisdom. Political instability, labor force fluctuations, or the potential for terrorism or economic unrest affect some industries more than others, but every organization is susceptible to unanticipated developments. If you want to find out what to do when your organization gets surprised, recommends this in-depth research-based report.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to apply strategic guidance based on 50 years of RAND Corporation studies;
  • How to develop the four keys to high performance: alertness, agility, adaptability and alignment;
  • How to reduce your organization’s vulnerability by planning for change; and
  • What 10 factors distinguish high performance organizations.


RAND Provides More Than 50 Years of Research
Hundreds of organizational studies conducted by the independent RAND Corporation during the last 50 years provide significant insight into how to develop a robust organization. For years, RAND has studied the possible futures of organizations...
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About the Author

Paul C. Light has written 19 books on business, education and public service, and frequently speaks on organizational life. He is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. In 1999, he founded the Center for Public Service at the Brookings Institution, where he has been affiliated for more than 20 years.

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