New Innovators: 18/72 Perform+

Fergal Brehony: “Giving feedback is always sensitive and existing methods and tools are not particularly effective”

Fergal Brehony: “Giving feedback is always sensitive and existing methods and tools are not particularly effective”


With more than 25 years of senior management experience in the multinational pharmaceuticals industry, Fergal Brehony is well versed in using performance management tools. However, he always felt they fell short. “After long years of frustration with subjective paper-based reviews, I believed a more objective quantitative system was required,” he says.

Brehony started mulling over an alternative almost 15 years ago and continued to tease it out while working, completing an MBA and a diploma in corporate governance. Two years ago, redundancy created the “now or never” moment and Brehony turned his attention to fine-tuning and launching his performance-review system.

“The aim of 18/72 Perform+ is to enable employees and managers to have more productive conversations around performance,” he says. “Reviews are essential for the effective management and evaluation of staff. They are also important for staff motivation, attitude and behaviour. But giving feedback is always sensitive and existing methods and tools are not particularly effective.”

With 18/72 Perform+, each employee is measured on 18 core competencies/behaviours specific to their role. Their goal is to achieve a score of 72 or less. An employee self-scores against the agreed criteria and is then scored by their manager. Between them, they set an agreed score and discuss what “help” the employee needs to achieve it.

“The company creates the metrics to match its benchmarks, behaviours and values to ensure that the statistics gathered really reflect what it’s trying to achieve,” Brehony says. “From the scores, we generate information that gives a snapshot of the ‘health’ of a workforce. The data gathered allows performance to be measured between employees, teams and within the company as a whole.”

Brehony says the beauty of the cloud- based system (for which the software development was done in Ireland) is that it travels. His intention is to expand rapidly through a chain of master licence holders. He plans to have licensees in Australia, South Africa and the Nordic countries by the summer and is particularly interested in the US market.

“Over 65 per cent of US companies use a paper-based system, or none at all, and the estimated market value for performance management there is around $2 billion,” he says. “I am not aware of direct competition and even if someone copies the nuts and bolts, they can’t replicate my ideas and they underpin the system.”

Brehony estimates the cost of developing 18/72 Perform+ to commercialisation at about €80,000. This has been largely self-funded. An Innovation Voucher from Enterprise Ireland allowed Brehony have his system externally validated by academics at DCU and he also received a small employment grant from South Dublin Enterprise Board. He is currently participating in the New Frontiers programme at Blanchardstown IT.

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