The Other Kind of Excellence. Part One

Your company is approaching an intersection. The light is green.
Turn left and you’re headed toward Excellence.
Turn right and you’re headed toward another kind of Excellence.
Go straight and you’ll arrive at Mediocrity.

Most companies go straight ahead because if they turn left or right they’ll be moving toward one kind of Excellence but directly away from the other kind and something about that feels vaguely wrong to them. Fearful of what they’ll be leaving behind if they turn to the left or right, they plunge straight ahead in a counterproductive compromise.

I’ve seen Mediocrity. It’s bland and boring and beige. You definitely don’t want to go there.

Compromise leads to Mediocrity.

Let me give you a glimpse of the scenery you’ll find on the left and on the right.

Turn left and you’ll reach Excellence through Planning and Execution.

1. Policies will revolve around efficiency and the reduction of waste.
2. Processes will be streamlined and standardized to minimize costs and problems.
3. Few decisions will be left to front-line employees.
4. You will need workers that are task-oriented, happy to conform to your policies, implement your processes and follow your procedures.
5. Customers will love that you are reliable and consistent.
6. Management will be focused on planning the work and working the plan.
7. Your success will be scalable because the need for talent and passion and commitment will have been replaced by systems and methods and procedures. A burger and fries at McDonalds is precisely the same at each of their 36,000 locations.

Turn right and you’ll reach Excellence through Poise and Responsiveness.

1. Policy will be to serve each customer in the manner they prefer to be served.
2. Processes will be about going the extra mile.
3. Big decisions will be left to front-line employees.
4. You will need workers that have talent and passion and commitment.
5. Customers will love the attention that you lavish on them.
6. Management will be focused on long-term relationships and the creation of a tribe.
7. Your success will rise and fall according to your ability to recruit and retain excellent people. They will cook your burger with the meat you prefer, the bun you prefer and serve it with exactly the combination of condiments you prefer. They will call you by name as they present it to you and bring you an extra cloth napkin because these burgers are really juicy. They’ll refill your drink, ask about Alfie your dog and tell you about the special dessert the chef prepared when he heard that you were going to be here today. Of course you love this place. It’s excellent.

Never forget: anytime you’re moving toward one kind of Excellence, you’re moving directly away from another kind.

The important thing is to choose.

Have courage. Follow your heart. Turn to the left or right.

Roy H. Williams