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3 Steps to Cultivating Enterprise Excellence


Every CEO wants to cultivate excellence in his or her company. Enterprise Excellence is a very specific strategy by which companies can improve and reach organizational goals.

Enterprise Excellence entails bringing all aspects of an organization into the same improvement and management system. Sales, new product development, finance, human resources—even IT—need to speak the same language and use the same methodologies. Enterprise Excellence is different from operational excellence, which usually refers to improvement work done at the frontlines of labor — on the shop floor, the surgical suite, or in order processing.

The Umbrella of Enterprise Excellence

Enterprise Excellence’s work is made up of three pieces:

  • a multi-dimensional toolset
  • a structured implementation methodology that includes the entire organization
  • an inclusive people-engagement strategy

Implementation of Enterprise Excellence includes a robust assessment process and a structured, high cadence, implementation calendar. This calendar can include quick wins and multi-day, team-based learning and implementation (kaizen), or carefully managed project work.

Enterprise Excellence is inclusive by nature. Every single person in the organization should be involved. Everyone should be relentlessly focused on waste elimination and value creation for the customer — not only in order fulfillment, but also in new product development, order generation, and core business administrative activities.


According to Enterprise Excellence, it’s crucial to concentrate resources on activities that matter and can be measured by the business. Too often, continuous improvement resources are spent on good-for-you or feel-good/look-good activities. Many handsome, clean, and organized facilities have gone out of business.

Organizations need to relentlessly improve their top- and bottom-line results. If an improvement activity does not have direct line of sight to a top-line number, a bottom-line number, or a working-capital number, owners and leaders should look hard at resourcing the work.

Build Capability

Most successful business strategies are founded on either expanding or creating organizational capabilities — to serve a new market, create new products/services for an existing market, or to create new synergies with partners. Enterprise Excellence keeps people focused on aligning all activities with those current and future opportunities to build capability.

The First Three Steps

There are three key steps leaders can take toward Enterprise Excellence.

  1. Decide that this is the right strategy for the organization.
  2. Enterprise Excellence is not a project or a short-term initiative. It is a business strategy that, over time, will build an organization that can identify and execute opportunities faster than all other competitors. The entire senior management team must be aligned around this concept theme. It will simply not work if it is only an operations or finance department initiative.

  3. Create the infrastructure for success.
  4. This includes clearly articulating the intended direction, agreeing upon metrics, creating steering committees, identifying internal and external resources, implementing recognition and reward programs, and building training capabilities.

  5. Begin with enthusiasm.
  6. The third step is taking the leap. Start by working on areas that will have a big impact for the business. Constantly communicate the changes. Constantly raise expectations. Constantly remove obstacles. Excellence needs to be a habit.

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