Winner of The Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award!
After two decades in the trenches of helping companies design and build better, more efficient operations, Karen Martin has pinpointed why performance improvement programs usually fail: Chaos, the sneaky but powerful force that frustrates customers, keeps business leaders awake at night, and saps company morale.
In The Outstanding Organization, Karen offers a toolbox for combating chaos by creating the organizational conditions that will allow your improvement efforts to return greater gains.
Proven, practical, and surprisingly simple, Karen's system focuses on four key behaviors for organizational excellence--Clarity, Focus, Discipline, Engagement--that, once instilled into a company's DNA, open the door to sustainable growth and profit. This well-organized, inviting-to-read guide reveals everything you need to know about:
- How the lack of clarity and focus adds millions of dollars of unnecessary labor expense and slows progress on all fronts
- How you can gain a competitive edge by adopting the type of disciplined behaviors typically found in the military, science, law enforcement, sports, and the arts
- Why you should stop worrying about employee satisfaction--and start concerning yourself with employee engagement
- Why adopting various improvement approaches without building a foundation for success won't solve your problems--and will likely create more chaos
Although you don't like the chaos that you're currently coping with, you've probably come to accept it. You don’t have to if you follow the path Karen lays out.
This no-nonsense book helps you get to the crux of the problem, so you can inject the sensible, disciplined calm that enables the levels of performance and innovation mandated by today's business environment--and help your organization become truly outstanding.
Praise for The Outstanding Organization
"Too often, outstanding performance seems out of reach. Karen Martin explains, with elegant simplicity, why so many organizations 'can't get there from here.' Better yet, she provides clear, actionable advice on building a foundation that will allow anyone to achieve excellence."
-Matthew E. May, author, The Laws of Subtraction
"This fast-moving book gives managers a series of practical, proven strategies and tools to improve performance to get better results immediately."
-Brian Tracy, author, Full Engagement!
"It is within our grasp to create an outstanding organization, but it won't happen without focus and attention. Karen Martin explores organizations that have made this transformation, and she unlocks their secrets for you. Read this book, apply the principles exposed, and you will achieve similar success."
-Richard Sheridan, CEO, Menlo Innovations
"Karen Martin shares her extensive experience assisting companies in their improvement efforts and identifies capabilities common among organizations that have achieved sustainable outstanding success. Especially noteworthy is Karen's discussion of the Plan-Do-Study-Adjust management cycle. Adapt it as you need, adopt it because you must."
-John Shook, Chairman and CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute
"Powerful and motivating! Whether you are performing aerial feats in a super-sonic fighter jet at low altitude or plotting improvement efforts from the corporate boardroom, this book will help you take your organizational performance to new heights!"
-Scott Beare, former Lead Solo Pilot, Blue Angels
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About the Author
Karen Martin has been building, managing, and improving operations for more than 20 years. As principal consultant for Karen Martin & Associates, LLC, she is a recognized thought leader in applying Lean thinking and the psychology of change to office, service, and knowledge work environments. Her diverse client list includes Fortune 500 companies, as well as small businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, and start-ups. She is the coauthor of The Kaizen Event Planner, codeveloper of Metrics-Based Process Mapping, instructor for the University of California, San Diego's Lean Enterprise program, and industry advisor to the University of San Diego's Industrial and Systems Engineering program. She lives in San Diego.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Karen Martin’s new book, The Outstanding Organization, gives us a practical, useable guide for how to transform our organization from mediocre (hopefully not poor!) to truly outstanding. While we all know what she says is true and that we should do it, the way she puts it is powerful and needed. A few of my favorite sayings in the book are: • Problems are not “Opportunities” – Finally!!! Let’s just say it and stop being so politically correct!!! Karen makes a significant differentiation between the two, “A problem is a gap – something that stands in the way, between where you are and where you need to be. An opportunity is a path that will move you from where you are to where you’d like to be. A problem is an urgent matter; an opportunity is not.” • “Solutions” only exist in Mathematics – More needed blunt talk! Karen states that the word “solution” implies implementing something new and going on to the next thing. This (mis)leads us to think we’re done which means we may not pay attention and maintain or improve the ‘fix.’ Perhaps we need countermeasures, as Karen suggests. Yes! For those of us that like using Balanced Scorecard™ as a tool, this rings so true. Karen points out the very important, and all too often ignored, real costs of not focusing – another detriment to outstanding performers. The psychological costs are very real, yet sometimes so subtle and slow to be recognized that they become insidiously terminal. Tied to this is the cost of incredibly amounts of lost time – time to re-educating on the ‘new’ direction, to shifting gears, to moving up (and down) learning curves, etc. She also points out the importance of prioritizing. As my clients know, this is a huge priority for me! If you don’t prioritize, someone will for you – and usually that’s not the best. It’s related to the phrase by not saying no, you’re saying no. Be proactive – make your choices before someone makes them for you. Lastly, business people and parents need Karen’s discussion on discipline! There is the concept of discipline in terms of practicing a habit or process – from which we get the word disciple. This has to do with responsibility, habit, and practice. Most people aren’t comfortable with discipline – they view it as restricting their freedom when in reality, it frees us up to explore new areas. There is no such thing as boundless freedom – nor should there be. We are an interdependent society and must live within some constraints – and that’s where innovation has the strongest play. So, read Karen’s book, learn and apply it to your organization, no matter how big or how small, how old or how young. You can become outstanding as well.