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John G. Miller

Health Care

Be Outstanding!

Six ways to make your organization exceptional

Published: Friday, December 4, 2009 - 18:16

Outstanding means being superior, striking, exceptional, clearly noticeable—essentially, to stand out. People are attracted to outstanding organizations. They want to buy from them, sell to them, invest in them, volunteer at them, and work for them. And as we close out the first decade of the 21st century, what better time than this to consider new ideas and implement ways to become better at everything we do so that we can have an outstanding year!

In Outstanding! (Penguin Group, 2010) I outline 47 ways that can help make any organization exceptional–whether it’s a corporation, a nonprofit, small business, government agency, church, or service group. While every reader will no doubt find their favorites, these six speak to every organization, no matter its size or purpose.

• Choose to change. Many organizations have terrific ways of doing things, but outstanding organizations are willing to set aside “the way we’ve always done things” and—while keeping their end goals in mind—recognize when it’s time to do things differently. They know that change will come and it’s better to initiate change from the inside than have change happen to them from the outside. When the latter takes place, it’s often too late to effectively respond.

• Keep the mission top of mind. People will do practically anything (as long as it’s legal and ethical) if they understand why they are doing it—and they’ll do it joyfully, with a full heart. The truth is this: Purpose powers passion. The organization’s mission can excite people, giving them fuel, if you will, to do their jobs each day and do them well. Outstanding organizations and their people never forget why they exist.

• Get actions in line with values. Espousing values like “customer first,” “respect,” and “people are our greatest asset” is meaningless unless our behaviors support those ideas. For example. if we embrace the word “humility,” then we have to avoid boasting, bragging, and topping each other in our interactions. Or if we say we value learning and continuous improvement, then we need to work to ensure that complacency is driven from our cultures and that we are each coachable in all we do. Integrity is a rare commodity in our world, so let’s allow that light to shine within our organizations.

• Fight the fat. When radio host, Dave Ramsey, talks about financial issues, he instructs people to “bother to bother.” In other words, decide to stay on top of and in control of the dollars. Whether times are good or bad, great organizations don’t get fat. The mistakes organizations commit are things like not paying attention to costs, taking clients for granted, ignoring market trends, failing to improve inefficient systems, disregarding customer input, or not worrying about the competition, When dollars rush in, as when a dike upstream has burst, it’s not uncommon to look past those errors and let our standards slip. But outstanding organizations always fight the fat.

• Speak well… make the right impression. People have perceptions of an organization that come almost entirely from how people representing the organization speak to them. As far as customers are concerned, the people with whom they interact are the organization. No matter how an organization sees itself, it’s what customers think that’s important. And it’s how we speak to anyone with whom we do business that tells them whether we are outstanding—or not.

• Listen in all directions. There are three ways to listen in an organization: management listening to the people, the people listening to each other, and everyone in the organization listening to the customer. Multitasking is the enemy of good listening. It’s critical that we look each other in the eye with undivided attention, saying, in effect, “You are the most important person in my world at this moment and I want to hear every word you have to say.” Listening is ultimately done by an individual, yet organizations must create cultures that encourage and support listening in all directions and ways.

So there you go—six ways to be outstanding and to ensure our organizations are the best they can be. Use them and see what a difference they can make.


About The Author

John G. Miller’s default image

John G. Miller

John G. Miller is the founder of QBQ Inc., an organizational development firm dedicated to making personal accountability a core value for companies and individuals. Through his writing, speaking, and a nationwide network of certified QBQ! consultants, Miller has brought his message to countless organizations, including Bausch & Lomb, Blockbuster, Wells Fargo, Verizon Wireless, Applebee's, Boeing, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Miller is the author of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question (Penguin Group. 2004) and Flipping the Switch (Penguin Group. 2005). Visit his web site at www.OutstandingOrganization.com, www.QBQ.com.