The Freedom to Flourish Manifesto: Revolutionizing Performance Management for a New Era




In a world where traditional management models are failing, the Freedom to Flourish Manifesto presents a transformative vision for purposeful organisations. This article explores how reimagining performance practices can foster human flourishing, enhance organizational progress and create social value. It aims to guide the way to more equitable, inspiring and humane workplaces, highlighting the necessity for just, prosperous and fulfilling work environments.

As business and societal dynamics evolve, we find ourselves at a critical juncture. The forces reshaping the world of work demand a drastic reevaluation of how we operate. At the heart of this transformation is the urgent need to reimagine performance management, the vital connection between people and the overarching purpose of the business.

Performance management is fundamentally broken. This is widely acknowledged by HR professionals, business leaders, employees, and stakeholders alike. Traditional systems are failing, resulting in widespread dissatisfaction and disengagement. The data is overwhelming: only 14% of employees strongly agree that performance reviews inspire them to improve, and fewer than one-third believe the review process is fair. Additionally, over 60% of HR executives rate their own performance management systems as C or below, and 98% believe yearly evaluations are not useful. This underscores the urgent need for a revolution in performance management.

The Need for Change

Our organizations have frequently become suffering machines, focusing narrowly on short-term profits and treating individuals as mere cogs in the machine. This has fostered a culture of fear and competition, stifling collaboration, creativity, and systemic flourishing. Traditional performance management systems, with their reliance on quantitative metrics and annual reviews, fail to capture the dynamic contributions of employees, neglecting their development and the broader social impact.

The Horizon Summit 2023 highlighted the urgency of this transformation. Following many stimulating discussions, a coalition of HR professionals, academics, consultants, and business leaders has come together to dismantle outdated practices and champion innovative solutions that truly contribute to organizational flourishing.

The Freedom to Flourish Manifesto: A New Vision

This pioneering initiative aimed at reshaping the future of work was launched at The HR Congress WorldSummit in Porto on May 14-15. The global Freedom to Flourish Manifesto on performance management represents a unique collaboration among HR professionals, practitioners, consultants, and academics from across the globe. Together, we’ve pooled our expertise to create a comprehensive framework of principles and practices to empower HR leaders in transforming their organizations to foster greater purpose, performance, and social value.

Otti Vogt and Antoinette Weibel, co-founders of the Society for Good Leadership, are the originators of this manifesto. Their vision and dedication have been instrumental in bringing this initiative to life. During an insightful interview at the summit, they shared their thoughts on how we can transform our organizations into miraculous, collaborative ventures that enable human flourishing and social value.

Drawing inspiration from the Agile Manifesto, the Flourishing Manifesto goes beyond methodological suggestions to form the cornerstone of a holistic business change journey and a paradigm shift in how we approach work.

Four Core Beliefs

The manifesto’s four core beliefs are rooted in a new management paradigm that prioritizes organizational flourishing. In contrast, the counterparts reflect common traits found in traditional performance management processes.

  1. Freedom and Flourishing Over Command and Control: Organisations should foster an environment where everybody has the right to a fullfilling work life while collectively actualising the full potential of all stakeholders.
  2. Purpose and Social Value Over Quarterly Budget Games:  Performance should be measured by the achievement of organizational purpose and positive societal impact, rather than just financial or sareholder metrics.
  3. System Change Over Individual Appraisal: Performance should be driven by the active development of people, values, and organizational design, not just by focusing on individual tasks.
  4. Growing Better Together Over Bonuses and Forced Rankings: Performance should be scaled through creating an ecosystem of virtuous individuals who uplift each other, rather than relying on carrots and sticks.

And 11 Principles

The manifesto outlines six principles guiding the overarching performance management process and five principles related to its core components. These principles are designed to serve as the cornerstone of a holistic business transformation, representing a paradigm shift in how we approach work.

The Way Forward

The Flourishing Manifesto represents a revolutionary shift in how we approach performance management. It is grounded in human-centric principles and ethical leadership, aiming to transform our organizations into collaborative ventures that enable human flourishing and social value.

We strongly believe that HR should take a lead in reshaping organisations towards freedom to flourish. We believe the priority is to rectify imbalances of power within our companies, ensuring that every voice is valued and every individual has the fundamental freedom to thrive. This need extends to corporate governance as well, as we must strive to liberate our organizations from undue domination by shareholders.

The manifesto evolves through agile sprints. Following the presentation at the HR Summit, extensive input from HR and business leaders will be collected, aiming to release the next version (MVP2) by the final quarter of 2024 – at the HORIZON SUMMIT in Amsterdam on November 5-6. We welcome your contributions to shaping the evolving manifesto or your partnership in implementing the principles and practices within your organization.


Excellence in business is not just about what we produce, and certainly not simply about how much money we make, but ultimately, about who we become. Our work is always also a mirror image of who we are, capable of creating boundless joy or profound sorrow.

Let’s embrace this new approach, turning every day and everything we do towards our best essence. This will create a future where performance management becomes a true catalyst for growth, development, joy, and collective prosperity and well-being.

Join us in this transformative journey and help shape a future where People at work truly flourish, after all, we are all Human Beings and not Human Resources!

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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