Conversations with Myself: Pockets of Excellence

Mickey Mouse hot dog cart

What are pockets of excellence and how do we create them?

Individual pockets of excellence are visible through people who have personally excelled, but what makes them tick and what makes them stand out from the crowd?

Corporate pockets of excellence are visible through companies that have excelled, but what makes them work and stand out from the crowd?

Pockets of excellence usually happen when:
• One or more groups are managing their processes brilliantly
• Documentation for everything they do exists
• Roles and expectations are communicated clearly and concisely
• Measures are in place to monitor and evaluate what works and what does not work
• Accountability is enforced – from the ground all the way to the top
Adapted from:

Pockets of excellence is about replicating the good that already exists rather than investing in yet another model to confuse everyone even more (

People and teams become excellent because they behave in a certain way i.e. they meet and/or exceed targets, they meet deadlines and they adopt an innovative and disciplined approach to everything they do. So how can we achieve pockets of excellence?

1) We need to be clear on our priorities and focus on them and nothing else. We should even become obsessive if necessary. Proof of this will be found in our habits and disciplines. What do we measure, how often do we measure and how do we act on what we have measured? How often do we meet with our team/partner and what do we talk about? What are the non-negotiable actions and behaviours that prevail?
2) Quality of communication in the team/partnership: How do we speak to or with each other? How do we handle e-mail communication? What do we do to ensure communication is open, clear, trustworthy and clearly understood in all directions? What happens when things are not clear?
3) Work processes and methods: How do we work that is different from others? How do we carry out our tasks? Do we have a particular methodology that sets us apart?
4) High level of engagement: are we as leaders behaving in a manner that makes the team excited about and committed to our objectives? What sense of progress does each team member have and how do they get information on the progress they are making against those objectives? How supported do team members feel? What does it “feel” like to be in the team? Is it a pleasant place to be? Are the interactions mostly pleasant and positive?
5) Customer relationships (internal or external): Is there something special about these relationships? What are we doing to create something special?

How do we create these pockets of excellence?
1) Identify what is good, seek to understand it and formulate a “theory of success” and find ways to copy it.
2) In copying these pockets of excellence, we are gathering evidence that tests the accuracy of the theory, we amend the theory as required, and we test the new theory, so we actively experiment in order to create more pockets of excellence.

Pockets of excellence takes discipline, critical observation and analysis skills and a certain amount of paranoia – a fear that there will always be a competitor who is bigger and better (always is!).
Adapted from:

7 thoughts on “Conversations with Myself: Pockets of Excellence

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