megaphone-500px

Make (more) change happen at your job and in your career.

Start Here | Work Workouts | Learning Things | Blog

On efficiency and excellence

Amazon delivered “In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters last week. He’s long been influential in my thinking about work and organizations. I own several of his more recent books but have never read the original tome that kicked it all off.

The idea of pursuing excellence has been around for so long—it’s been nearly forty years since “In Search of Excellence” was published—it has lost gusto as a management fad in contemporary organizations.

But Seth Godin resurrected the idea for me when he talked about the book on Brian Koppelman’s The Moment podcast recently. Organizational excellence was a nascent idea before “In Search of Excellence” was published.

The thing is, somewhere between 1982 and today, the idea of excellence was conflated with the notion of efficiency in most organizations. It’s resulted in a questionable efficiency-at-all-costs-excellence-strategy throughout the industry.

There’s nothing wrong with efficiency as an organizational ideal. It’s just that a blind pursuit of efficiency in the name of excellence actually comes at the expense of excellence.

Because the problem with efficiency-as-excellence idea, as Seth relays on the podcast, lies in the definition of efficiency: meeting spec. 

And the definition of excellence is not meeting spec. 

Organizational excellence is actually an output of human caring. Human caring in organizations, according to Seth’s interpretation of “In Search of Excellence,” is the answer to this question: “How would you do the work if you actually cared about it?” 

This matters because, in my estimation, many of the problems in healthcare delivery organizations today are mislabeled as efficiency problems when they should be considered problems of excellence.

email-signup-cherry-offwhite

YOUR WORK IS HARD WORK.

GET A PEP TALK IN YOUR INBOX EVERY WEDNESDAY.

I think healthcare delivery organizations are rather efficient operators.

What they lack, as I hear a muffled “bullshit” under your breath, is employees who ask themselves, “How would I do the work if I actually cared about it?,” when it comes to improving the operations of healthcare delivery. 

Conflating efficiency and excellence has resulted in a workplace cultural satisfaction that merely meeting spec is good enough when it comes to improving healthcare delivery operations.

It’s not. 

Because it ignores excellence.

And it is excellence that will emerge again as an organizational pursuit for competitive advantage as efficiency has merely become the expectation.

“THANK YOU FOR SENDING THIS EMAIL EVERY WEEK.”

That’s an endorsement of my weekly pep talk email from my good friend Jade. She’s trustworthy. She’s a healthcare person. And she’s working to make healthcare better through the work. I’m betting you’ll find it valuable every Wednesday, too.

PEP TALKS, GOOD READS, & THINGS TO LEARN. FOR HEALTHCARE PEOPLE.

My philosophy on email: Don’t send a bad one.

email-signup-cherry-transparent

More Reading

The Now of Work

A follow-on guide to the “Healthcare is changing. How we work hasn’t. And it’s holding us back.” introductory series. Here are ten ideas for getting started with the now of work.

The benefits of thinking about your thinking

Metacognition is the process we use to plan, monitor, and assess our learning, thinking, and doing. It’s wildly important because it’s how we build an awareness of our understanding and performance, which is required for working in complexity.

email-signup-white

A WEDNESDAY EMAIL NEWSLETTER

"It's one email I'm excited to open."

Healthcare is changing. How we work hasn’t. And it’s holding us back.​

Get learning and encouragement to change work through the work.

PEP TALKS, GOOD READS, & THINGS TO LEARN

ww-logo-stacked-344px
2-triangle-2px
A Slimmer Work Workout

Be notified when slimmer Work Workouts are planned. Enter your contact information and I’ll send you a note when the sign up is opened.