Systemic Mediocrity

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by Steve Holt on February 8, 2012

Lukewarm food. Games that end in a tie. “Let’s just be friends.”

You can probably think of a bunch of your own examples, but most people don’t like things that are ‘mediocre’. Things that are bland, boring, and un-exciting. That state of constant blandness, consistent incompetence, or middle-of-the-roadness could be labeled as ‘systemic mediocrity’. That’s a very bad place to be as an organization or an individual.

I really like what Todd Henry said in his article entitled “The Art of Possibility Thinking“. He makes the point that if you have an organization of nothing but “what if?”, forward-thinking, big-idea people, you never get anything done because you constantly talk about great new ideas but never execute. And conversely if you have an organization of nothing but “Yeah, but..” negative-ninny, status-quo people then you get stuck going nowhere. Funny, but both of those scenarios get you nowhere. Both of those scenarios, coming from both ends of the spectrum, cause systemic mediocrity.

For small business owners it is even harder. You have payroll to make, bills to pay, employees to hire and fire, orders to place, and a hundred other things that fall on your shoulders. Sometimes being middle-of-the-road is all that keeps you from running off the road. But make no mistake, by staying in the middle of the road, systemic mediocrity can kill your organization. It causes customers to not come back, employees to become lazy, and it causes you to lose your passion and drive.

So don’t settle for the tie, and eat the dinner while it’s hot. And avoid systemic mediocrity at all costs.

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