As technology continues to become more mobile and social, we marvel at the advancements of the last few years. Technology is crossing into areas we once thought only possible in comic books and science fiction movies. And yet the success of these technologies still comes down to that age-old key success factor:  great people.

Technology is a poor substitute for work ethic, deep subject matter expertise, and inspired creativity. Don’t get me wrong. IT&S partners with many of the world’s top technology leaders. But the success of those technologies still comes down to the individuals implementing them. Understanding how to finely tune a work flow or setting a parameter the right way still requires the human touch.

Organizational improvement is a mainstay in management journals. But all of those articles suggesting “transformations” and other revolutionary approaches to improving organizational strength seem too much like the new fad diet. For our organization, we’ve stressed the fundamentals. We encourage each employee to strive to improve by 10-15%. There are numerous ways to achieve these gains, but we would place focus at the top of that list. When we combine focus with fundamentals, we get a fairly simple roadmap to success.

For our organization, that roadmap begins with the performance review process. We just finished our 2012 reviews. Prior to the cycle, our management team dedicated itself to achieving excellence with this effort by focusing on providing thorough and balanced feedback. Even for our highest achievers, managers were encouraged to identify paths for even stronger performance. We established a new record for reviews completed on schedule (more than 97%), and the feedback we have received from both managers and staff has been amazing.

I’m sure great results can come from “organizational transformations” or the newest management technique, but we’ve chosen to improve productivity the old-fashioned way: with fair, balanced assessments and open dialogue. Excellence at this leads to excellence in our development programs and other mechanisms targeted to improve productivity, so we’re confident our efforts translate into our ability to deploy technology solutions more effectively and efficiently. After all, great people deploy great technology.