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Developing a No Excuses Culture Published: Sunday, October 29, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

The challenge facing nearly every organization, and the straight forward solution to such a condition, is that of eliminating excuses so all the people can focus on results. Every time we look at organizations that excel we find an ingrained capacity to focus on results. Whether is a sales unit, a dream team, a highly skilled research and development group or a well-integrated and motivated consulting enterprise performing highly complex tasks, the end results speak for themselves. The strategy is that of creating a culture of no excuses, as a fundamental aspect of effective leadership, mentoring and management.

One of the biggest problems of bureaucratic settings impacting executives, managers, supervisors and professionals in general, and the single most frustrating part of the job, is the overwhelming number of excuses they encounter every day. Excuses are part of the previous work environment, where it appeared that it became a fact of life and that no one was responsible for anything that went wrong. The traditional ideology was that of "no one is perfect" and "what happened was totally beyond our control."

Every organization has a particular culture. Some are planned, meaning that leaders actually took the time to determine and share what they wanted it to be and may have even written a culture statement, but most organizational cultures simple take on a life of their own over time. The culture represents how employees think about their business, what type of business they are in, and how customers are viewed and treated. Without a conscious effort to create a culture, it tends to be based on informal tradition. But it is important to remember that the culture is the way things are actually done and how events are perceived. This can be, sometimes, in direct conflict with the organization`s stated policies.

How do we change an existing culture that tolerates or even encourages excuses and transform it into a no excuse culture? First, remember that the culture, to a great extent, is determined by those in leadership positions. The first step for enacting change is for leaders to assume the responsibility for no longer accepting, nor making excuses. If excuses are not prohibited they will automatically be assumed to be acceptable. The second step must be a kind of a formal declaration that excuses are no longer acceptable and they will be eliminated at every opportunity. If this commitment is enforced, then "excusitis" will not be the rule of the day.

By creating a no excuses culture people are set free to focus on results, not excuses. This is the same as giving yourself and others the right to be responsible for self motivation, and creating the stage to accept responsibility for delivering higher levels of performance and building our own platform of success. Results or excuses are mutually exclusive. Sometimes it is not the fault of the people who make excuses. It is the work arrangement that accepts them. Kill excuses before they take hold.

Copyright 2000 QBS, Inc. 
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