In his new guide, author C. David Crouch reveals the eighty-three principles of excellentology to help you build excellence in your life. Using "building a house" as a metaphor, he guides you in your own personal journey toward excellence. You can learn how to
• lay a strong foundation by developing a mission, vision, principles, and standards;
• recognize five pillars of performance that map a clear path toward excellence;
• assemble a roof that allows you to measure your progress at the organizational, team, and individual levels; and
• improve your ability to lead yourself and others toward excellence.
By applying the model in five diverse environments-an organization, a team, a church, a family, and an individual life-Crouch demonstrates its effective use for any endeavor. He also applies his model for excellence to a sixth environment-the United States of America-revealing some interesting considerations.
Build a life of joy, peace, significance, and fulfillment for yourself and those around you with The Excellent Experience.
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THE EXCELLENT EXPERIENCE
A BLUEPRINT FOR ORGANIZATIONAL, TEAM, AND INDIVIDUAL SUCCESS
By C. David Crouch
iUniverse, LLCCopyright © 2013 C. DAVID CROUCH
All rights reserved.
Far better it is to dare mighty things to win glorious triumphs even though checkered with failure than to take rank with those poor souls who neither suffer much nor accomplish much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. —Theodore Roosevelt
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing! —Helen Keller
We all want to be a part of something special—to feel swept away in an adventure that transcends us—to feel like we matter to the world around us in some significant way.
It was the spring of 1975, and I had been selected to play the part of Jesus in our high school production of the Broadway musical Godspell. Our director, Mr. Grady, had a true love for drama and an exceptional ability to get kids to perform at their best. He worked us hard every day after school and built a passion in us to be the best we could be. He required persistent discipline from us as we learned our lines, worked on the dance steps, and stumbled through the scenes. He had to start from scratch with many of us, including me. After all, we were just high school kids, not seasoned actors.
Perhaps the most challenging and frustrating skill I had to learn was tap dancing. There was a scene in the play where Judas and Jesus performed a vaudeville tap dance. I've never been much of a dancer. I can slow dance, I can half-step disco, and I can shag. But I can't tap dance. Mr. Grady had a heck of a time getting me to learn to tap. He brought in the school's best dancer, Sherri, who worked with me for weeks after school, trying to help me learn to tap dance. Finally, almost ready to give up on me, she figured out how to simplify it in a way that looked like tap, but was much easier for me to do. I realized that when you're on a journey to excellence, sometimes you have to figure out ways to compensate for your weaknesses. Since no one is good at everything, learning what you're good at and what you're not is critical. I also learned that any personal quest for excellence is not really so personal at all. It always involves others. I needed Sherri's help to do that dance.
The unique talents and capabilities of the kids in the play, shaped by Mr. Grady's talented and unique style of leadership and encouragement, combined to create one of those remarkable adventures that transcended each of us. As it was happening, I felt I was a part of something really special. Following the opening night of the play, every performance was sold out with standing-room-only crowds. The public responded so positively that we extended its run a full week. Mr. Grady, in his infinite wisdom, had us stop right there, believing you should always leave your audience wanting more.
Godspell was an experience of excellence in my early life. It made a difference in the lives of those it touched, both in the production itself and in the audiences for whom we played. It left a mark on my heart and in my life that I'll never forget. To this day, it's still one of the most positive memorable experiences I've had in my fifty-plus years. Even as I write about it now, I feel warmth in my heart and a sense of accomplishment at having made a difference in some small way in the lives of others. Each of us gave our best, and it was undoubtedly an excellent experience. Excellence makes a difference in the lives of others.
Since that spring of 1975, I've had many other excellent experiences. Those are the times of my life I remember most. They stand out. They made a difference to me—and others—and gave me a tremendous, wonderful sense of accomplishment about doing something that really mattered.
Throughout my career, I've invested countless hours with many people, teams, and organizations in dozens of different industries, researching the concepts of excellence and practicing how to build it. I've also pursued the keys of excellence as they apply to my marriage, family, and life. You could say I've become an excellentologist, one who studies excellence and then puts it into practice.
As my journey progressed, I wondered if there was a framework for excellence that, if followed, would yield the greatest opportunity for success. Whether it's a for-profit business, a charity, a marriage, a family, a civic club, a sports team, a church group, or any other organization where two or more people come together to accomplish something really special, is there a blueprint we can apply that really works?
How can we create an environment that leads to excellence?
What needs to happen to enable every individual in an organization or team to perform at his or her best?
Are there principles we can follow that will produce excellence every time?
Is there a framework for excellence that will guide us in the right direction and give us the best opportunity for success in everything we set out to do?
Is it possible to create a blueprint for excellence that, when applied, will generate the best possible outcome?
Can anyone learn how to apply this blueprint to his or her own life, work, or team?
These are not necessarily new questions, but in my research, I failed to find a specific blueprint to guide the way. However, I did find numerous resources on the subject that explored the questions of excellence from many different angles. I'll introduce you to most of them as we journey through this book together.
As I searched for excellence in theory, I also searched for it in practice. I studied some of the great organizations that exist today, including Disney, Ritz-Carlton, Southwest Airlines, and Toyota. I searched for examples of excellence in their cultures, respecting what they had accomplished and learning from their experiences.
The answers to these questions are the focus of this book. My objective is to provide you with a framework for building excellence that you can apply to any aspect of your life. I'll show you how these timeless principles and tested practices will work in any environment. It's my sincere hope that applying this framework for excellence in your life will do as much for you as it has done for me. I believe it will.
Building a House of Excellence
In my recent work and personal life, I've had several transcending experiences where many elements have come together to create an outcome of excellence. Many of the results I've experienced are nothing short of remarkable. Working with others, we have built our house of excellence. You can too!
The blueprint is not just a way to get great results in business, personal, or group endeavors. It's much more than that. I've approached this work from the standpoint of creating a blueprint that truly drives excellence—not "good enough," mediocrity, or minimum standards. This work is only intended for those who earnestly strive for an experience of excellence in their lives. If you want to improve the results you're getting in any area of your life—at work, home, school, church, or in the community—then read on.
Albert Einstein said, "Insanity is doing the same thing you've always done but expecting a different result." If you want to change your results, you must change how you got those results. It's as simple as that.
Furthermore, this blueprint will help you create an experience of excellence you will always remember and cherish. Your effort will make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. You'll get excellent results, you'll produce higher-quality products and services, you'll deliver better service to your customers and guests, you'll create positive, memorable experiences for everyone involved, you'll grow, and you'll earn financial rewards.
You'll also realize that life is more than results, profits, or personal gain. You will discover that it's an opportunity to matter in the world around you, to have a lasting impact on those you serve, and to leave a legacy of hope and encouragement for others to follow. Excellence creates a life of significance—a life that matters. It's a noble and worthy pursuit. I hope you'll make the commitment right now to begin anew in your pursuit of excellence in everything you do, whether personal or professional. If you do, I guarantee that you, and all those around you, will never be the same again. And if you so desire, you too can become an excellentologist.
Welcome to your journey toward excellence. Welcome to the science of excellentology.
Summary of Chapter 1: Excellentology
1. Excellentology is the study and practice of excellence.
2. Excellence requires hard work, persistent discipline, a plan, and the commitment to see it through.
3. There is a blueprint for creating and sustaining excellence that anyone can learn and apply.
4. Applying the blueprint will create a life of purpose, meaning, and worth for you and all those around you.
1. Analyze your current situation.
Are you satisfied with the results you're getting?
If not, what are you going to do differently to get different results?
Do you want your effort to be one of excellence—or are you willing to settle for mediocrity, complacency, good, or good enough?
2. Make a decision.
Decide right now to commit to creating excellence in whatever it is you're doing.
Share your decision with one or two other people you trust who will encourage you along the way.
3. Commit to a new direction.
Commit to the decision you have just made.
Document your commitment, sign it, and date it. Let this be the first entry in your new journal of excellence.
Document your thoughts, actions, revelations, and results along the way. We can learn much from our experiences if we just pay attention.CHAPTER 2
Design a Blueprint
I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.
—Henry David Thoreau
Can you imagine trying to build a house without first designing a blueprint for the builders to follow? Similarly, what makes us think we could experience any level of excellence without a blueprint, a plan to guide us toward our destination? Does such a blueprint for excellence exist—or do we have to figure it out for ourselves? That was my question thirty years ago as I began the search for such a plan.
As a result, I've learned that the blueprint for excellence does exist. When diligently pursued, it can produce remarkable results in any environment. Using this blueprint, my organization soared rapidly to national attention as rookie of the year with a national healthcare consulting firm. We achieved dramatic improvements in quality, customer perception of service, turnover, employee engagement, and growth. Using this blueprint at the team level, my team gained national recognition for three best practices in organizational development interventions, taking us to the national conference platform every year from 2004 to 2009. Using this blueprint at the individual level, my teammates soared to new performance levels and were recognized internally as some of the highest performers in the organization. Additionally, I, as their leader, experienced significant personal growth and achieved a higher level of excellence in my own career and personal life—a level of personal value and fulfillment I had never before achieved. My team members also say the same about themselves.
Using this blueprint at church, we discerned balanced clarity of focus in our activities and rallied the members to new levels of Christian action. Using the blueprint at home, we have found peace and joy in an environment of love and service. Using it in my own life, I have found joy, fulfillment, and purpose that brings worth and value to others and me. This Blueprint for Excellence can be applied to any endeavor.
9. Excellence produces a life of joy and fulfillment.
So where do we start? What is this blueprint I keep referring to? Building a culture of excellence is like building a house—and the beginning of any home-building project requires a blueprint. We need a plan to show us how to gather the raw materials, lay a solid foundation, frame it up, attach the roof, and apply all the finishing touches.
The Raw Materials
Before we begin laying the foundation, we should assemble the appropriate raw materials. As I talk with other organizations, teams, and individuals around the country, I'm often asked these questions:
What two or three things have had the most impact on your organization's success?
What is the secret to your success?
The answers to these questions are the raw materials for our own house of excellence.
1. Leadership excellence. Organizations of excellence have excellent leadership. As the leader goes, so goes the team. As described by Jim Collins in Good to Great, it starts at the top with a level-five leader. Without a dedicated level-five leader, everything will be a challenge—and many things will be impossible. Collins defines a level-five leader as one who "builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will." A level-five leader is humble and determined and represents the highest level of executive capability. Level-five leaders are self-effacing individuals who display fierce resolve to do whatever needs to be done to make the organization great. They are incredibly ambitious, but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves (Collins, Good to Great, pp. 20-21).
2. The right people in the right roles. The right person in the right role at the right time with trust and accountability at all levels. First who, then what. Sub-standard, low performance cannot be tolerated. Attitudes that derail the team must be eliminated. As Collins puts it, you must have the right people in the right seats on the bus.
3. A proven and tested method. A framework that guides and promotes excellence. Left up to chance, most efforts will fail. The framework is the road map—the blueprint. Tactics, processes, and all activities must be targeted toward achievement of the mission and vision. The framework must require consideration of all important aspects that drive organizational success. The house of excellence blueprint provides such a framework.
In chapter 17, we'll explore the first two of our raw materials—leadership excellence and the right people on the bus. The third raw material, a framework, is the focus of chapters 3-16.
Let's begin with a discussion about the roof. Stephen Covey, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, points out that we should "begin with the end in mind." The roof represents the end objective, the desired ultimate destination, and is divided into three sections.
The first, or top, section is organizational excellence. Your overall objective is to create an organization of excellence. Using a tool many refer to as an organizational scorecard, we'll create specific measurable objectives that will enable you to measure your progress. The top management team is responsible for this level of outcome. In business, this would include the top leader and his or her direct reports. The leader's compensation, future, and well-being in the organization should rest on the progress achieved at this level. If a pay raise is awarded to this team in any performance period, it should be based on the progress of the organization as measured by these goals. In chapter 13, we'll describe these goals in detail and introduce you to some tools to make this happen.
The second, or middle, level of the roof represents team excellence. Most organizations are comprised of a subset of teams or departments. For the organization to perform at a consistently high level of excellence, each team within the organization must perform at a consistently high level of excellence. Excellent teams build excellent organizations. Team goals must align with organization goals. This may appear obvious and elementary, but have you ever worked in an organization or been part of a team effort where striving for excellence was never even mentioned? Most of us talk a good game about creating high-performing teams—but only in the well-structured teams and organizations is there an intentional plan for making it happen. In chapter 14, we'll describe the specific plan and strategy for ensuring team excellence.
Excerpted from THE EXCELLENT EXPERIENCE by C. David Crouch. Copyright © 2013 C. DAVID CROUCH. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Section 1 Design a Blueprint,
Chapter 1: Excellentology, 21,
Chapter 2: Design a Blueprint, 28,
Section 2 Lay a Solid Foundation,
Chapter 3: Build on Rock!, 49,
Chapter 4: The Mission, 64,
Chapter 5: The Vision, 82,
Chapter 6: The Principles, 97,
Chapter 7: The Standards, 111,
Section 3 Erect the Structure,
Chapter 8: The Quality Pillar, 137,
Chapter 9: The Service Pillar, 153,
Chapter 10: The People Pillar, 175,
Chapter 11: The Growth Pillar, 194,
Chapter 12: The Finance Pillar, 212,
Section 4 Assemble the Roof,
Chapter 13: The Organization Scorecard, 241,
Chapter 14: The Team Scorecard, 248,
Chapter 15: The Individual Scorecard, 269,
Section 5 Top It Out!,
Chapter 16: The Blueprint for Excellence!, 312,
Chapter 17: Leading Excellence, 336,
Chapter 18: America the Excellent!, 378,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well done! There are a lot of business and self-help books available, and I've read hundreds. Some authors offer entertaining stories and anecdotes, but leave the reader wondering about the actual message. All dessert. Some authors provide excellent material, but present it in a less-than enjoyable style. Meat and potatoes, but flavorless. Sorry for the cliche, but The Excellent Experience provides a full course Thanksgiving meal. If you like Napoleon Hill or Les Brown, add this book to your collection. There are layers of strategies to satisfy and enhance the knowledge-base of the most seasoned business leader or entrepreneur. And the author has provided a simple structure of practical tools for those readers just beginning their career journey, or adult life. In fact, it doesn't just apply to a business environment. I'm giving my young adult children a copy for their personal libraries. It offers a meaningful foundational approach for careers and personal life. As an independent business owner and former publisher, I tend to critique books in this field pretty harshly, but I really enjoyed The Excellent Experience. Jan Cheves, American Golf Association (former publisher: JTC Sports, Inc)