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Obstacles on the Road to Excellence – the Three-C’s



Establishing an organizations center of excellence (COE) takes vision and a strong commitment to overcoming obstacles.  Three common obstacles often encountered on the journey towards excellence are:

  • Complacency,
  • Complexity and
  • Conservatism.


Complacency is the notion that “this works, it’s manageable, so why change it?”

This attitude comes from the old saying, “if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it”.  Fear may cause complacency – as going from known to unknown takes hard work and courage – assets that you may find to be in short supply for various reasons. Simple laziness might also be a culprit as not everyone “gets” the idea of continuous improvement.”

Often team members receive recognition for performing at anticipated levels (doing what they’ve always done even though it’s really only “adequate”) and not for performing towards potential – this kind of reward system actually fosters complacency.


“I don’t have the time (or expertise, or experience, or whatever) it will take for me to fully understand this.”

Many times, something is believed to be “very complicated” and “requires an expert” when in fact; all it really requires is “good common sense” (and when you do come across something that legitimately rivals quantum physics, unless your name is Max Planck, you should consider a simpler, more straight-forward approach or option anyway), so look for opportunities to “explain away the magic”.


I call this the “inability to steal second base”. This thought process involves the idea of “I’ve got a lot at stake here, let me wait and see what becomes of this first to mitigate my risk”. The problem with this attitude is that if you wait for the “batter to swing” you will in fact lose the several steps head-start on your journey towards excellence.  An organization serious about the “pursuit of excellence” will inspire an attitude where everyone on the team can “lean forward” by offering new ideas, questioning past practices and otherwise keeping an “open mind” to new and perhaps unproven practices.


Final Thoughts


These obstacles may be “justifiable” with a variety of seemingly “reasonable defenses” – such as budgeting, resource and scheduling constraints, but don’t give in or give up, remember,


“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts.”



2 thoughts on “Obstacles on the Road to Excellence – the Three-C’s

  1. These inhibitors are found in most large organizations. A major rationale in forming a COE is to overcome obstacles and finding the right people from within the organization that are true thought leaders is key to success. I disagree that obstacles are justifiable. In today’s hyper competitive environment, you either change and adopt the best to your needs or you are likely to disappear.

  2. I think you missed the point of the post. My comment that obstacles may be “justifiable” was from a client’s perspective – and I mentioned “don’t give in or give up”…

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