The innovations that were unthinkable just a few years ago have, through digitalization and worldwide networking, led to an increasing workload in most industries. The resulting possibility of doing more and more in less and less time has also brought about a new way of thinking about performance and efficiency. This trend, called “Performance Culture,” stands for the effort to continually optimize oneself and one’s activities and to get the best out of everything—professionally as well as personally.
The careerist of the 21st century can fall back on a multitude of technical innovations of the digital age, making it easier for him to reach his always ambitious goals. Smartphones, tablets, and notebooks have become symbols of multitasking and IT-based efficiency. But these devices are more than professional “tools” because they shape an entire lifestyle. The “Multi-performers,” as the protagonists of the “Performance Culture” are called, also like to use technical innovations in their private lives. Just think of costly consumer electronics or all kinds of smart home applications.
A defining trend of the performance society
The pursuit of excellence requires your own efforts and progress to be measured. What the “Multi-performer” in her profession sees as the steeply rising balance curve is a stylish technical gadget for all sorts of purposes in her private life. Self-tracking devices, in particular, represent this tendency toward self-optimization, such as fitness apps that meticulously document physical performance and provide motivation during the workout which the “Multi-performer” uses to keep fit in her grueling lifestyle.
The “Performance Culture” is an important macro trend of the modern performance society. Its representatives are often company founders and self-employed people for whom professional success takes high priority in their lives. Their everyday routines are tightly timed, and their busy schedules leave little room for personal life. They also continue to work at home, on the train, or on the plane, and their jobs and limited free time often merge together.
Competition as a life attitude and always wanting to be ahead of the game are the main features of the “Performance Culture.” Just as they always want to keep up with all technical innovations to stay in the fast lane, in their leisure time, the “Multi-performers” prefer strongly competitive sports, exotic destinations, exquisite culinary delights, expensive furnishings, fashionable wardrobes, and higher class cars. This luxurious lifestyle not only serves enjoyment and functions as a reward for above-average professional commitment, but it is also a means of self-expression. Because the “Multi-performer” wants to show that he has achieved something.
Clever solutions instead of dogged effort
„Performance Culture” is one of the many side streams of the megatrend “Individualization.” And so individuality and self-realization are central values in the life of the “Multi-performers.” This lifestyle is in line with other life models, but it has a much more materialistic and egocentric touch than, for example, “Female Force” or “Millennial Parents.” The juxtaposition and coexistence of lifestyles, which are sometimes not clearly delineated from each other, define another macro trend that we have already discussed here, namely “Lifestyle Diversity.”
In this colorful variety of lifestyles in western countries, the good old workaholic still has a firm place, albeit in an updated version; after all, performance, striving for success, a high level of organization, and efficiency are the prerequisites for securing prosperity and progress in modern industrial societies. But the “Performance Culture” also has an influence on the working climate in companies. In place of the outdated model of “boss yells and everyone jumps” emerges a new understanding of leadership. It creates more space for employees to display their skills and better exploit their potential in order to improve their performance. Instead of pressure and force, they rely on creativity and sometimes a playful approach to solving tasks. This means that the “Performance Culture” initially has unexpected contact points with the “Playfulness” trend—because sometimes it’s not a dogged effort that leads to top performance, but rather clever and smart approaches.