One Thing All Outstanding Organizations Do


Aspiration is useless, on its own. You aspire to excellence, success, and fulfillment. Big deal. Who doesn’t?

Aspiration apart from definition, method, and means is life lived by blind hope and dumb luck. Furthermore, defining isn’t enough.

Defining organizational excellence apart from developing clear strategies to achieve it is, “Equivalent to telling a middle-school basket-ball player that the key to success is being like Michael Jordan,” Karen Martin.

How can organizations become outstanding? How can you achieve your aspirations?

From aspiration to achievement:

“More important than the quest for certainty
is the quest for clarity.” Francois Gautier


All outstanding organizations pursue clarity, passionately. Lack of clarity comforts the mediocre.

Karen explains strategies for developing clarity in her new book, “The Outstanding Organization.”

  1. Embrace truth telling and truth seeking. In my experience, there is damn little of this in organizations. Nearly every organizational leader I know shades the truth; we lie. Why do “noble” leaders lie? Because we believe people can’t handle the truth. Think about it.
  2. Eliminate “soft” language. Martin says, “Telling someone the honest truth … about his performance, or about a challenge the company faces is fundamentally an act of respect.” Turn this around. Shading the truth is profound, degrading disrespect.
  3. Expose fuzzy words. I’m sick to death of terms like; better, near, almost, fast, slow, high, and low. This language is confusing at best and deceiving at worst. Be specific or shut up because you’re wasting everyone’s time and likely tooting your own horn.
  4. Eradicate, “Maybe,” and “I’m not sure.” Karen says, “Do your best to preface every answer with, ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘I don’t know.’” You may need to elaborate, but if you don’t begin with clarity, it’s not likely you’ll achieve it. Karen says “Yes and no” is cheating!

Apart from seeking clarity, what strategies do you employ in your pursuit of excellence?

What do all outstanding organizations do?


Note: My rule has been to never mention books unless I’ve spoken to the author. “The Outstanding Organization,” is so good I broke that rule. Get this book and learn four elegantly simple foundations for building an outstanding organization.