Who Kidnapped Excellence?

What Stops Us from Giving and Being Our Best

Harry Paul (Author) | John Britt (Author) | Ed Jent (Author)

Publication date: 01/06/2014

Who Kidnapped Excellence?

Uses a clever and fun parable to identify what excellence is, how we lose it, and how we can regain it.

  • Cowritten by two bestselling authors: Harry Paul, coauthor of Fish! (over 5 million copies sold), and John Britt, coauthor of Who Killed Change? (over 100,000 copies sold)
  • Uses a clever and fun parable to identify what excellence is, how we lose it, and how we can regain it and ensure it becomes an integral part of our lives
  • Offers tools, action steps, and examples to help readers achieve professional and personal excellence

Most companies talk about excellence, but what does excellence really mean? What specific attitudes and practices lead to excellence? Drawing on years of study and decades of experience, authors Harry Paul, John Britt, and Ed Jent have zeroed in on five core qualities of excellence. In this entertaining and enlightening book, they tell how to give and be your best in each of these five critical dimensions and foster excellence in your organization and in your life.

The book begins with a crime being committed: Excellence (personified) has been kidnapped, and Leadership assembles Excellence's team (Passion, Flexibility, Communication, Competency, and Ownership) and challenges them to work together to get their Excellence back.

And who is the culprit? It is Average who has kidnapped Excellence and replaced Excellence's team with his own: N. Different, N. Ept, N. Flexible, Miss Communication, and Poser. But a mysterious ransom note sparks a struggle between Average and Excellence.

Integrated into this tale of organizational excellence is the story of Dave, a delivery man. The kidnapping causes Dave to contemplate his own life and relationships in a way that makes the paths of personal and organizational excellence cross and intertwine. Who Kidnapped Excellence? is a parable that helps organizations and individuals achieve their best in every aspect of their lives.

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Overview

Uses a clever and fun parable to identify what excellence is, how we lose it, and how we can regain it.

  • Cowritten by two bestselling authors: Harry Paul, coauthor of Fish! (over 5 million copies sold), and John Britt, coauthor of Who Killed Change? (over 100,000 copies sold)
  • Uses a clever and fun parable to identify what excellence is, how we lose it, and how we can regain it and ensure it becomes an integral part of our lives
  • Offers tools, action steps, and examples to help readers achieve professional and personal excellence

Most companies talk about excellence, but what does excellence really mean? What specific attitudes and practices lead to excellence? Drawing on years of study and decades of experience, authors Harry Paul, John Britt, and Ed Jent have zeroed in on five core qualities of excellence. In this entertaining and enlightening book, they tell how to give and be your best in each of these five critical dimensions and foster excellence in your organization and in your life.

The book begins with a crime being committed: Excellence (personified) has been kidnapped, and Leadership assembles Excellence's team (Passion, Flexibility, Communication, Competency, and Ownership) and challenges them to work together to get their Excellence back.

And who is the culprit? It is Average who has kidnapped Excellence and replaced Excellence's team with his own: N. Different, N. Ept, N. Flexible, Miss Communication, and Poser. But a mysterious ransom note sparks a struggle between Average and Excellence.

Integrated into this tale of organizational excellence is the story of Dave, a delivery man. The kidnapping causes Dave to contemplate his own life and relationships in a way that makes the paths of personal and organizational excellence cross and intertwine. Who Kidnapped Excellence? is a parable that helps organizations and individuals achieve their best in every aspect of their lives.

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Harry Paul

For over thirty years, Harry Paul’s career has been about helping people and organizations to be their best. His writing, speaking, and training showcase common threads throughout his work: having fun at what you are doing at work, no matter what it is you do; helping people to be their best at work and at home; and showing organizations how to keep their employees fully engaged. Harry’s latest book, Who Kidnapped Excellence?, expertly weaves these threads together to help people and organizations strive for excellence.

Harry developed the first thread of having fun at work while he was a senior vice president at the Ken Blanchard Companies. That’s where he coauthored his first book, FISH! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results. FISH! was on various best-seller lists for over six years straight and is one of the best-selling business books of all time. As a result of this success, Harry travels the world sharing the philosophy with audiences.

The second thread is helping people to be their best; it led to several more best-selling books, including REVVED!, coauthored with Dr. Ross Reck, which helps managers and leaders to understand the importance of recognizing and appreciating people when they go the extra mile—building an Army of Advocates who can’t wait to work hard for you.

The third thread keeps people engaged—a challenge faced by many companies worldwide, especially in these tough economic times, because full employee engagement can be as low as 30 percent. When managers focus on their people and manage with trust, engagement happens, followed by increased performance and profits.

Harry has taken what he’s learned from his previous work and teamed up with John Britt, coauthor of Who Killed Change?, and Ed Jent to write the definitive book about achieving excellence in all that you do, Who Kidnapped Excellence?

Harry has coauthored six books that have been translated into thirty-five languages and sold well over seven million copies worldwide. His articles on customer service, employee engagement, and workplace culture have been published internationally, and he has been a featured speaker at conferences and corporate meetings in the United States and in places around the world, including Singapore, Bahrain, India, Sri Lanka, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. Harry lives in San Diego, California, with his wife, and they have two grown children.



Visit Author Page - John Britt

John began his career as a registered nurse and worked in a hospital emergency room. It was there that John began to understand that the organization’s management and their frontline employees did not share the same perspective. Management seemed interested in discussing staffing, scheduling, productivity, and efficiencies while the frontline personnel discussed the delivery of patient care and quality for their patients.

After he transitioned to a management position, John began to realize that the leadership, management, and frontline people all ultimately wanted the same thing. They just did not have the same frame of reference, nor did they have the ability to use a common language. This interest in people and the interaction between the various levels of positions led John to go back to get a bachelor’s degree in management of human resources and then a master’s degree in organizational management.

John eventually began a consulting career in which he had the opportunity to observe and positively influence people in their organizational settings. He became intrigued by the fact that some projects were successful and some were not, and he began a quest to understand this. The quest led him to the topics of change management and change leadership. He began to write down his thoughts and ideas, and it was this path that led to his first book, Who Killed Change?, which was coauthored by Ken Blanchard and published in fifteen languages. This book gave John his first major platform to help leadership, management, and frontline personnel to better understand one another’s viewpoints.

John was also interested in understanding the impetus for the various levels of customer service he was receiving. Why was it excellent in one establishment and so poor in another? After his father-in-law, whom John was very close to, was killed in a car accident, John became introspective and arrived at his hypothesis: Excellence is inside out. Whether it is customer-service excellence or personal excellence, it begins with a choice and a first step forward. It was this chain of events that led to the writing of Who Kidnapped Excellence? John knew that his friends Ed Jent and Harry Paul also had a passion for excellence. Two phone calls later, the collaboration began. John believes that many of the solutions to companies’ problems, issues, and challenges can come from their people at the front lines. Who Kidnapped Excellence? gives John another platform from which to encourage leadership and management to reach out to their employees.

John is the director of health-care solutions at Kforce, a company that has a history of excellence (see the following section). He speaks nationally and internationally on topics related to organizational behavior. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Cynthia; three dogs (Dooley, Ellie, and Mollie); and three cats (Dora, Mushu, and Miss Kitty). John’s daughter, Katherine, and son, Jonathan, also live in Louisville.



Visit Author Page - Ed Jent

Someone to look at something from a different perspective or helping him or her to develop goals inspires Ed. Ed graduated from Western Kentucky University (1986) with a bachelor’s degree in communication. He also holds a master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1988). In addition, he graduated from Walt Disney World’s Disney University. It was at Disney that Ed began to understand what was “behind the curtain” to produce excellence in customer service. He played baseball at Western Kentucky, where he was a cocaptain his senior year. He also traveled with AIA Baseball throughout the Pacific. He has served in Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, and Kentucky as a minister of education for several church organizations. Traveling throughout the world has enabled him to gather a unique cultural perspective on life and people. Some of the best lessons he has learned came from candid conversations with people whom he had nothing in common with.

Ed has committed himself to being a lifelong learner. Change implementation and conflict management are areas he enjoys, in addition to teaching and writing. He is comfortable in front of an audience and loves his work. He is never happier than when he is asked to figure out why something is not working. Counseling and helping others to find their passion is another area he enjoys. Challenging someone to look at something from a different perspective or helping him or her to develop goals inspires Ed.

Working with volunteers in a nonprofit organization offers him an opportunity to be flexible, communicate, instill ownership, develop competency, and be passionate. Leading volunteers for over twenty-five years has been a joy and a privilege. However, leading people who do what they do apart from a salary creates a unique set of opportunities. These five competencies have been the central focus of his work. People excel when they grow in these competencies, and Ed has spent his life helping people to excel.

Family is very important to him, and he enjoys spending time with his wife, Patricia, and his two boys, Hunter and Spencer. Ed lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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Table of Contents

Foreword

Introduction

1. Excellence Kidnapped

2. The Demand for the Return of Excellence

3. Average and His Team Get to Work

4. Below Average

5. Passion Meets N. Different

6. Competency Meets N. Ept

7. Flexibility Meets N. Flexibility

8. Communication Meets Miss Communication

9. Ownership Meets Poser

10. Leadership Meets the Employees

11. What Every Leader, Manager, Supervisor, and Employee Must Know About Excellence

Epilogue

Now ELEVATE Your Excellence!

People and Companies Who ˜Get It'

Jack, the Coffee Tastes Better When You Make It!

Baptist Hospital

First Choice Home Medical

Southwest Airlines.

Mitchells Family of Stores

Galt House Hotel.

Acknowledgments

About the Authors

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Excerpt

Who Kidnapped Excellence?

Introduction

Who Kidnapped Excellence? What Stops Us From Giving and Being Our Best is written for YOU! Whether you are a frontline employee, supervisor, manager, CEO, mother, father, or spouse, this book has a personal message for you. It is intended for people to use both in their organizational roles and in their personal lives.

In Who Kidnapped Excellence?, Excellence gets kidnapped at Gorman-Scott Inc. and is replaced by Average, who is a makeup artist. Interestingly, months go by before Leadership recognizes the change. A ransom note left on the conference room table is the impetus that sets Leadership in motion to get their Excellence back. Leadership enlists Excellence’s team (Passion, Competency, Flexibility, Communication, and Ownership) in the quest.

But Average is not easily thwarted. He assembles his own team (N. Different, N. Competency, N. Flexibility, Miss Communication, and Poser), who dig in their heels and use all their cunning powers of deception to keep Excellence from returning and to keep Performance falling.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Excellence

Average

Passion

N. Different

Competency

N. Ept

Flexibility

N. Flexibility

Communication

Miss Communication

Ownership

Poser

As this organizational good-versus-evil confrontation unfolds, Dave, the long-standing deliveryman for Gorman-Scott Inc., comes face-to-face with Average in his personal life. The stories of Dave and the organization intertwine in their common challenges: first, they need to fully recognize the presence of Average, and then they need to return Excellence to her rightful place.

In the “Resources” section, Dave offers practical advice to help others gain and maintain excellence in their personal lives and their work. The last section, “People and Companies Who ‘Get It,’ ” offers insight into people and companies who demonstrate excellence.

Note to the Reader

Most companies talk about excellence on a routine basis. Yet we do so without a common definition. How do we define excellence? When we began this book, we initially identified many qualities of excellence. However, over the course of two and a half years, we whittled the number down to five. This was no easy task. As we examined these qualities, we realized that many of the traits were actually a subset of one of the five core qualities.

Now we believe we have identified those core qualities/elements of excellence. Additionally, we believe that in this book we have created a common language that more accurately defines and explains the concept of excellence. We do not assert that these are the only aspects of excellence, but we do contend that if one can attend to these five core elements consistently, one has, in earnest, begun the journey toward excellence.

Storytelling can be an entertaining and powerful way of presenting new information or reinforcing what has been learned. Therefore, we chose to personify as characters the qualities of Excellence and Average, along with their respective teams, using narrative to tell the story about the elusive yet attainable quality of excellence. We believe that this creates a unique and interesting format to best explain how to restore excellence and remove the barriers that stop us from giving and getting our best. However, this style of narration presents a challenge for the reader in differentiating the personified traits that represent Excellence from the ways in which the words are used in normal, everyday conversation. To help with this, we have capitalized the personified traits (Excellence, Average, etc.) and used lowercase for the normal, everyday usage of the words (excellence, average, etc.).

Too often, both at home and at work, our perception of excellence is unknowingly compromised by the insidious creep of circumstance, rationalization, and duplicity that resets the yardstick by which we measure our performance. We become inured to our circumstances and environment and fail to recognize that average has displaced excellence. Who Kidnapped Excellence? will cause you to look in the mirror and truthfully evaluate yourself. Once you have come face-to-face with your own reality, you can then draw from Dave’s journal and the other lessons in this book to make practical changes in your life.

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Endorsements

“As a believer in the philosophy outlined in Harry Paul's book Fish!, I feel Who Kidnapped Excellence? has the same potential to have a profound impact with its straightforward, plainspoken message that will resonate with everyone from the frontline to the executive office, at work and in one's personal life. I had a few aha moments myself that made me see my own personal situation in a new light and provided a framework to lead my current team from good to great.”
—John D. Smith, regional president and general manager in the hospitality and entertainment industry

“The privilege of a lifetime is to be the best of who you are and to exercise that privilege every day.
Who Kidnapped Excellence? will show you how!”
—Rick Peterson, Director of Pitching Development for the Baltimore Orioles and Pitching Coach for the Oakland A's during the Moneyball era

“What stops you from giving and getting your best? Read
Who Kidnapped Excellence? and find out. The key principles and practical applications in this book are life changing.”
—Donald D. Snyder, former Dean, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“An exciting management thriller that can be of immense value to change agents in the workplace. Thank you, Harry, John, and Ed, for authoring this wonderful book on being and delivering the best.”
—N. S. Rajan, Member, Group Executive Council, and Group Chief Human Resources Officer, Tata Sons

“To be excellent in our professional and personal lives is a choice. The authors make their points about achieving excellence using a fun ‘whodunit' crime story that most of us will relate to. I highly recommend this book to all those seeking to develop or sustain excellence in their lives.”
—J. Talbot (Tal) Land, former Healthcare Consulting Partner, Ernst & Young

“A fun and easy read that simply addresses the critical need for company cultures to never take their eyes off Excellence—as it can quickly disappear before you know it!”
—Jon Headlee, President, Ten Adams, a health-care marketing and culture firm business

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