April 18, 2014

Quick thoughts on the definition of excellence, and the weekly rewind

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Excellence

Excellence 2 by agni43 on deviantart.com

It’s one of those days where what should be, and what is, are at odds with each other again…..

“Excellence” is something that ought to be defined objectively.  There ought ot be agree-upon standards for excellence.  In some cases there are, such as in sports where Excellence is defined as a team championship.  Even then, however, excellence has a subjective interpretation – you might be a batting champion in baseball (meaning you have the highest individual batting average of any player), yet play for a last place team.  A super star player might have sub-par statistics due to the poor team that surrounds him or her.

I think, if you ask almost any person, in any role, in any company what excellent means and they will tell you about their experience – and not necessarily about the standards within their profession.  This may mean that, in reality, “excellence” becomes a locally-defined phenomenon, which is a mistake.

That dynamic might explain why so many companies go through slumps or fail outright – the lack of understanding that in business marketplaces excellence is defined from those outside of internal Senior management roles.  Markets (for products, services, and employee talent) define excellence – not the individuals at the heads of the organization.  Look for more on those thoughts in an upcoming post.

The weekly rewind:

  • From fastcompany.com: Email Is Crushing Us, Can Activity Streams Free Us?   Author David Lavenda discusses the introduction of Activity Streams to replace email.  There are pros (such as smaller messages that can flow) and cons (cacophonic noise and the need for filtering the stream).
  • From forbes.com: The 4 Crucial Mistakes Companies Make During Downturns  Christine Comaford notes the perils of short-term thinking that lead to long-term problems. The four perils, in my words, not hers:
    1. Hiring for immediate need, not culture & personality
    2. Embracing negative cash flow under the guise of “investment”
    3. Lack of planning and the subsequent firefighting that becomes the norm
    4. Chasing revenue over creating value
  • From CNBC: The New Cubicle Revolution.  Author Julie Clow offers some thoughts on the changing dynamics of society that have overtaken the industrial-age models we’re used to.  The arguments sound a lot like ROWE, focusing on individuality over conformity and an emphasis on new ways of approaching work.  All of this I applaud, but I still bristle when I hear people can work when they want, where they want, and how they want.  It simply results in too much variation if left to manage itself.

 

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