Organizations today have been rocked to the core and they must now reassess their workforce strategies under a completely new set of guidelines. This brings us to program maturity and why it’s critical.

During program maturity assessments with SIA’s CWS Council members, we have talked about the necessity for programs to be structured to perform during significant, disruptive events. And the pandemic certainly has put even the best business continuity and disaster recovery plans to test.

Program maturity is all about adaptability and flexibility — the sheer ability of your program to continue to perform and deliver to the organization’s ever-changing strategy and needs, regardless of what the world throws at it.


I have often said that one of the best indicators of future performance is past performance and that one of the best indicators of future behavior is past behavior. While that premise may no longer hold following the upheaval of Covid-19, the past will remain a source of infinite wisdom for us to learn from. We are always keen to look at trendlines, which have always been a foundation upon which to predict much of our short-term future.

Yet so many of these trendlines — whether they be economic, technology adoption, workforce preferences, or social and business limitations forced upon the world — have been devastated and need to be re-evaluated.

Rather than simply adapt to the current situation, though, you must make sure your programs are structured to adapt to any future events as well — because that will happen. And that hinges on program maturity.

Performance vs. Maturity

The analogy that I often use to explain the difference between performance and maturity is:

Two people meet to run 100 meters today. They both cross the finishing line in just 15 seconds. They look at each other and agree that their performance today was fantastic and walk away with smiles on their faces.

However, when we look deeper into the lifestyles of these two budding athletes (their maturity), we see that one of them never drinks alcohol, doesn’t smoke, goes to the gym every day, trains regularly and has a nutritionist advising them on their daily diet.

The other runner, however, drinks five pints of beer a day, has fried food twice a day, never goes to the gym and never intends to.

It’s highly likely that, should our runners’ behavior stay the same, the first runner’s times are going to improve in the coming years. Meanwhile, our second runner’s times are likely to get worse — assuming they manage to make it to the racetrack in the first place.

Program Maturity Is a Journey

In the analogy above, it just isn’t likely for the second runner to suddenly change their behavior at a moment’s notice. Even if they did, the results of that change in behavior is going to take time to come to fruition. First, they need to realize the impact of their current lifestyle on their running times; they need to want to change and then set a path to achieve improvement and resolve to pay the price to achieve their new objectives.

Applying that concept to your program, how easy has it been for your organization to adapt to the changing environment since Covid-19 and how is your overall workforce program currently structured to continue to deliver against your changing organizational needs in the years ahead? Is it adaptable, does it have a plan B and even a plan C? Is it ahead of the changing technology and legislative landscape? Is it ahead of, and adapting to, the ever-changing needs of your future talent and is it structured to attract and engage with the best of them?

Performance today is essential. However, to focus disproportionately on today’s performance at the expense of investment into your workforce program’s future maturity is likely to result in a degradation of your organization’s overall market competitiveness.