The Outstanding Organization by Karen Martin, published by McGrawHill.
The Outstanding Organization is a 215 page book for anyone involved in the strategic direction and decision making of an organization. The Outstanding Organization is broken into six main sections:
- Cracks in the foundation
- Adopting habits that pay
As a book, The Outstanding Organization is well researched with a plethora of mini case studies and examples. Linked to apparently robust academic (US & UK) research and papers, this is a beautiful blend of the practical example, backed up by academic rigor.
In The Outstanding Organization, it is apparent that Martin has used both a diverse range of resources to contribute to the publication (the acknowledgements section alone lists over 70 people involved at some point) – Martin is a true collaborator. Martin also cites primary research carried out in professional online communities on some issues, i.e. trends on what “employees” are called and organizational culture.
The Outstanding Organization – The Books’ Tone
The tone of the book is conversational in nature and aids the reader to reflect on their current situation, before treading a path through the experiences of the author and her research.
The introduction sets out Martins’ reason for starting this journey and her reflections on what she sees businesses of all sizes aiming to achieve.
A great example of this is:
“Four years ago I had an epiphany – a hypothesis that I began testing. I didn’t undertake a rigorous academic style research; rather, I tested my hypothesis in the trenches every day with real world clients, all of whom had good intentions but were not achieving the results they desired. This book contains my findings”
Not the usual case studies – The Outstanding Organization
In the chapter on engagement is the predictable cases studies of Gore and Toyota, and the less predictable WOW! and the Container Store. Martin seems to reference more UK research on engagement than US, sure the usual Gallup Q12 is mentioned (but as that was pre-2008, is the research still valid?), but also references David Guest and MacLeod.
Martin summarizes her research into employee engagement into 3 factors, what she calls the 3 C’s:
Connection – to others
Control – having some say in what happens
Creativity – the ability to express, not being “boxed-in”
One term that kept cropping up was PDSA (a danger of my reading style not to start at the beginning of a book!), My initial understanding of this was Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals – but I could not see how this organization would fit – then I realised it stood for:
Plan-Do-Study-Adjust – a twist on Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) – I had not come across this variant before, and having done some (quick) research there is some sense in the change from “check” to “study” – but that is for an other article.
In fact Martin goes into using this model in some detail – a section worth reading on its own.
Criticism of the book – The Outstanding Organization
My only Criticism of this book (The Outstanding Organization), it the extent to which technical language is used, and the number of TLA’s and FLA’s are used* – but then this is a book for professionals.
The Outstanding Organization is a must read for everyone who wants to improve the performance of the organization through the engagement of its people. it does not matter if you are the business owner, a manager or a human resources professional, this book will have you thinking about your business in a different way. In the introduction of the book Martin starts with the premise that ” had good intentions but were not achieving the results they desired” – so this is not about “fixing” broken things – but having a fresh way of looking at things
The Outstanding Organization on Kindle:
**declaration – Karen contacted me for some research information during the writing of the book. We have no other connections
Book Review/ Summary – The Outstanding Organization by Karen Martin