Better than good

The quest for organizational excellence
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Organizational Excellence

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Organizational excellence: Systematic efforts to establish a framework of standards and processes intended to engage all employees to deliver value in the products and services that fulfill customer requirements (American Society for Quality, 2019).


It’s not enough for organizations to be good. For those who want to be the top and timeless choice in the market, excellence must be the goal. Organizational excellence is achieved by focusing on culture and strategy. The Evidence-Based Leadership Framework and Nine Principles for Organizational Excellence work together to build a top place work culture and offer strategies for attaining excellent results 

Evidence-Based Leadership Framework 

Organizations achieve excellence when leaders: (1) create the right goals with the right accountability and the right leadership development, (2) apply the right approach for managing individual performance, and (3) select the right processes, programs, and technology to accelerate the continuous improvement process (Pilcher & Studer, 2015).  

Aligned Goals 

Strategic Priorities and Goals: An organizational scorecard frames organizational and team goals for improvement. What does success look like? What matters to the team?

Leader Development: Identify the skills all employees need to be successful and achieve the identified goals. Build ongoing development and coaching to build capacity. 

Aligned Behaviors 

Always Behaviors/Actions: The behaviors everyone will live by to reflect the organization’s standards of excellence. These are the mandatory behaviors and non-compliance is not accepted.

Performance Management: Systematic processes of reflection and feedback. Set clear expectations, recognize good performance, and conduct conversations to guide individual, team, and system performance.

Aligned Processes 

Standardization: Consistent deployment of short cycles of action, improvement tools, tactics, and processes to learn, solve problems, and hardwire improved processes and strategies to achieve excellence and attain goals that matter. 

Accelerators: Testing and scaling new processes, technology, resources, and work tools to reduce barriers and improve performance to achieve identified goals.  



The Nine Principles for Organizational Excellence are the guiding concepts of the Evidence-Based Leadership Framework. When applied with fidelity, these principles give organizations a road map for developing a culture of excellence.  

Principle 1: Commit to Excellence 

Set high expectations to achieve results while living out mission and values. 


Continuously track progress to achieve results with an improvement mindset. 

Principle 3: Build a Culture Around Service 

Serve others with great care and concern. 

Principle 4: Develop Leaders to Develop People 

Coach people to be their best at work. 

Principle 5: Focus on Employee Engagement 

Attend to aspirations and desires in the workplace. 

Principle 6: Be Accountable 

Commit to individual accountability to achieve organizational goals. 

Principle 7: Align Behaviors with Goals and Values 

Apply consistent practices to move the organization in a positive direction. 

Principle 8: Communicate at All Levels 

People know why what they do matters. 

Principle 9: Recognize and Reward Success 

Value and appreciate people working together to get results.  

Reflect: organizational excellence

EBL Framework
  • To what extent have you created the right goals with the right accountability and the right leadership development?
  • Do you have a system and processes for managing individual performance, including recognizing good work and providing critical feedback for performance gaps?
  • Are leaders across the organization consistently applying strategies, processes, and tools?
Nine Principles
  • Where are you and where do you want to be?
  • What are your processes for sharing results that matter and gathering input for improvement?
  • Do you have standards for service excellence; and do employees know them?
  • To what extent do you invest in development of employees at all levels?
  • How do you know if employees are engaged?
  • What do you need from every employee for the organization to succeed?
  • Are employee goals aligned to the highest priorities for collective success?
  • Do employees know organizational and individual goals and how they are expected to contribute?
  • How well do you recognize what’s working so others know what right looks like?

A Journey

It’s easy to think that an organization can “arrive” at excellence and then take a breather. In reality, organizational excellence requires a constant effort and process of reflecting on where you are and where you need to be. Having a framework and set of principles to guide this effort keeps teams moving forward and aligned.

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