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The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence

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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 mor 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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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 mor 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

30 review for The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bob Wallner

    Let me start by saying, I am a huge fan of Ms. Martin and Mr. Osterling. Ms. Martin's webinar's and video resources are amazing learning opportunities. Having disclosed that it is a heavy heart that I give this book 3 stars. Below I hope to effectively explain why the low score for someone I truly respect. The issues I have with TOO is not that I disagree with the authors' and it is not because the topic wasn't interesting or relevant. The issue is that the book simply wasn't written for me. The Let me start by saying, I am a huge fan of Ms. Martin and Mr. Osterling. Ms. Martin's webinar's and video resources are amazing learning opportunities. Having disclosed that it is a heavy heart that I give this book 3 stars. Below I hope to effectively explain why the low score for someone I truly respect. The issues I have with TOO is not that I disagree with the authors' and it is not because the topic wasn't interesting or relevant. The issue is that the book simply wasn't written for me. The two books by Martin and Osterling's that I have read are definitely geared toward the top management/leadership within an organization. I understand why and I absolutely get it, to drive a sustaining culture of excellence and improvement it has to start and be owned at the top levels. As a mid-level leader, I read books like this that cite great executives and I find myself sinking into a "Funk" as I don't see many leaders embracing the qualities that these exemplary leaders have embraced. Not only do I go into a "funk", but I find myself critiquing my leaders, past and present, against the standards that the exemplary leaders have set. Personally, I don't have the dream nor the drive to be the senior most leader in an organization. I know that it simply doesn't match my desires in life. But I do want to be the best leader at my level that I can possibly be. TOO doesn't speak to that level of leader. With the exception of the Appendix, which I will cover in a moment, I didn't feel that The Outstanding Organization spoke to me as a middle leader who influences both up and down the organizational ladder. The appendix was a fantastic way to end the book. I loved how the book ended going over and providing some methods of Socratic Questioning. This section, no matter bottom, middle or senior leader can and should embrace.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    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 th 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John E. Smith

    I have worked with quality initiatives in both the non-profit and for-profit world, so I've been exposed to a number of sources, from traditional to current, that try to make the tools of performance improvement understandable and usable. Karen Martin has succeeded in doing this, unlike many before her. The difference between this book and many others, including some of the classic works, is that Karen creates a realistic context for using the tools before launching into descriptions of how to use I have worked with quality initiatives in both the non-profit and for-profit world, so I've been exposed to a number of sources, from traditional to current, that try to make the tools of performance improvement understandable and usable. Karen Martin has succeeded in doing this, unlike many before her. The difference between this book and many others, including some of the classic works, is that Karen creates a realistic context for using the tools before launching into descriptions of how to use them. She starts with an intelligent consideration of the role of chaos in most organizations, to help us understand both what chaos is (sometimes we are so used to an environment, we do not recognize the chaos in it) and why it occurs so frequently. She then lays out a three-pronged approach to reduce or eliminate chaos, using the elements of problem-solving, continuous improvement, and resilience. I enjoyed reading this book because of Karen's amiable, but authoritative style. She knows of what she talks. If you own, manage, or work in an organization of any size with any focus, you should find much that resonates with you in this title. More importantly, you will find workable and effective answers to the problems you will begin to see. The Outstanding Organization is not one of the many "flavor of the month" business titles we all see parading past. The Outstanding Organization is a keeper and a reference that you will want to read more than once and keep within arm's length.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Farooq Mazhar

    I read this book today but don’t find it very useful from practical perspective. It provided four key learnings such as Clarity, Focus, Discipline, and Engagement to build/make outstanding organisation. However, I think these are fundamental skills of leadership and management team and covered in basic management theories. In practice sometimes team isn’t clear about priorities and focus on many unimportant things, but setting priorities is again part of strategic and change management. Furtherm I read this book today but don’t find it very useful from practical perspective. It provided four key learnings such as Clarity, Focus, Discipline, and Engagement to build/make outstanding organisation. However, I think these are fundamental skills of leadership and management team and covered in basic management theories. In practice sometimes team isn’t clear about priorities and focus on many unimportant things, but setting priorities is again part of strategic and change management. Furthermore, engaging people, communicating vision and strategy, behaving with sense of urgency, etc. are covered in books written by John Kotter. I would give 3 stars because I like the concept of showing broken home. It reflect capabilities such as problems solving, resilience, and continuous improvement are important pillars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    VICTOR SIERRA MENDOZA

    I am not sure if the scope of the book is narrowed just to the concepts of lean and let others concepts out. It is worthy all the alignment with lean concepts and how they work to reach an oustanding organization but I don’t know if lean is all about to become oustanding, definitely lean is a great factor to it but maybe an organization needs other things to become oustanding.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eric Kaltenmark

    I just finished my copy of “The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence” which I received via Goodreads. To be honest, this is the first book I’ve ever had to put aside for a while because it hit too close to home. After reading the introduction I was so shocked with some of the statements that reflected my current feelings and beliefs I had to reevaluate my current environment. If that statement alone is not en I just finished my copy of “The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence” which I received via Goodreads. To be honest, this is the first book I’ve ever had to put aside for a while because it hit too close to home. After reading the introduction I was so shocked with some of the statements that reflected my current feelings and beliefs I had to reevaluate my current environment. If that statement alone is not enough to tell you that The Outstanding Organization by Karen Martin is an excellent book, then I don’t know what to tell you. Karen did a great job of cutting straight to the point about the core subjects of eliminating chaos, building a stable foundation and the part I loved the most, obtaining, educating, retaining AND respecting employees (family). Her book provided helpful examples of how to address the issues outlined above without getting too deep into technique and processes. By keeping at the 25,000 foot level she is able to get the key points across without slowing the book down. I’ve recommended this book to all of my team members (family) and would suggest this be required reading for those looking at the HR field as well.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Becky Robinson

    As a new business owner, I'd be beyond thrilled if someone used the word outstanding to describe my company. Reading Karen Martin's book, The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence gave me hope that outstandingness -- for any organization -- is an attainable, achievable goal. Karen's focus on the importance of building a strong foundation instantly captured my attention. She clearly diagnoses common problems orga As a new business owner, I'd be beyond thrilled if someone used the word outstanding to describe my company. Reading Karen Martin's book, The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence gave me hope that outstandingness -- for any organization -- is an attainable, achievable goal. Karen's focus on the importance of building a strong foundation instantly captured my attention. She clearly diagnoses common problems organizations face, foundational problems like lack of focus, lack of discipline, lack of engagement, and lack of clarity. By reading her book, I quickly identified some areas for improvement within my organization. I also found helpful advice about how to make lasting improvements. I also love that Karen recognizes that becoming outstanding is a journey and provides the tools for people who want to embark on that journey in this well-written, helpful book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott Harris

    Karen Martin does a fine job of capturing key lessons that can help guide executives and business leaders. She guides them through a rather simple formula, although one with complex edges as she encourages them get clear, to get focused, to get disciplined and to become engaged. In a world increasingly ruled by endless change management, this book provides straight-forward counter-measures that can guide success in the midst of confusion.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vic Divecha

    Must read for Industrial Engineers Critical examination of scientific management, consulting practices, improvement programs, flavors of the month innovation, good vs junk project practices. Invaluable.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mike Thelen

    A good book that follows what I was taught by my Toyota mentors. Easy for non-manufacturing leaders to read through

  11. 4 out of 5

    KDM

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Nancy

  14. 5 out of 5

    John

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark John Buenconsejo

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joe Setness

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Hanson

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrice

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  20. 4 out of 5

    Louis Davey

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Lee

  22. 5 out of 5

    Grant Gochnauer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roberto R Cura

  24. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Morton

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cristian Cătană

  26. 5 out of 5

    Saumya Srivastava

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Holtby

  28. 5 out of 5

    Blue

  29. 4 out of 5

    VITOR P MUNIZ JR

  30. 4 out of 5

    irfan bekleyen

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