Recently, while working on a program for a company that has been in business for over 64 years, I came across a particularly compelling value statement: “In the pursuit of excellence, adequacy is unacceptable.” It’s stuck with me since then as a perfect encapsulation of forward-thinking business philosophy.
Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google, and thousands of other digital tools have completely changed the way companies must do business if they plan on surviving. With two taps on their smartphone, anybody can go online and check out your company. In 10 seconds they can see everything that’s being said about you and your team. In an instant, potential prospects can type your company’s name into the search bar and sift through your dirty laundry. If people are complaining about your service, your demeanor, or your product, you can say goodbye to this potential customer, because they’re moving on. Sometimes, all it takes is a single colorful review to stop us from ever doing business with that company.
So where does “adequacy is unacceptable” enter the mix?
The truth is, people don’t go online and write comments about adequate experiences they have with companies. When a customer decides to take time out of their busy day to write a review, you can bet they’re going to either rave and rant about their fantastic experience, or go far out of their way to drag your company’s name through the mud after the horrible time they had. The smartest companies realize this and bend over backwards to elicit descriptors like “superior,” “awesome,” “amazing” and “excellent.” If your business is doing a middling job, or even a “good” one, it might as well be invisible.
“Adequacy is unacceptable” is a perfect ideal not only for the hugely successful business I worked with recently, but for all companies. “Adequate” is just another word for average — are you looking to hire average people or do business with average companies? Of course you’re not. The consequence of being merely adequate is always disappointment. An adequate experience captivates no one, does nothing exceptional, and has no distinctive qualities. There is no way to differentiate yourself from the competition while doing an adequate job.
Instead, consider what your company can do to impress, astound and excite those for whom you are working. The company that consistently not only exceeds expectations, but blows them totally out of the water, will always be in high demand. Do more, be more, give more, and you’re sure to achieve more. This isn’t third-grade soccer; nobody’s going to give you a trophy for an adequate performance.