1st Edition

Pursuing Excellence A Values-Based, Systems Approach to Help Companies Become More Resilient

By Brian Strobel Copyright 2021
    218 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    218 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    218 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    This book is for the people who lead our companies.

    Our world suffered a staggering blow. We will recover. Many of our companies are still suffering. Some of them will not recover.  

    We’re in a time of disruption. A company’s culture will play a big part in managing through this disruption. Senior leaders must establish a clear purpose, a strong set of core values, and a plan to translate strategy into action.

    Companies will be seeking to transform, to become more efficient and resilient. Most attempts to do so fail. They fail because we try to solve the wrong problem with the wrong system. We attempt to change the way people act. But to achieve sustained improvement, we must focus on changing the way they think.  

    Over the last thirty years, we’ve experimented with Lean, Six Sigma, and other improvement initiatives. Each failed to move beyond average performance and sustain transformational improvement. Average then became a learned behavior.  

    To move forward, we must unlearn some things. We must change our problem definition and our defined systems. And we can do this by framing the problem through the lens of Operational Excellence.

    Table of Contents



    About the Author

    The Lens of Operational Excellence



    Part I – Things That Are and That Could Be

    1 Start with the Beginning but Focus on the End

    Part II – Things We Don’t See

    2 Validating Our Values and Beliefs

    3 Honing Our Culture

    4 Clarifying Our Leadership

    5 Aligning Our Strategy

    6 Integrating Our Systems and Structures

    7 Understanding Our MarketSpace

    Part III – Things We Do See

    8 Engaging Our People

    9 Improving Our Processes

    10 Realizing Our Products

    Part IV – Things the Customer Sees

    11 Optimizing the Customer Experience

    Part V – Why These Things Matter

    12 Application




    Brian Strobel has been leading people in operational environments for thirty years. His initial academic pursuits trained him to be a physicist, but life had other plans. He’s led large-scale military operations and led change across large companies. He’s certified as a trainer for Situational Leadership, a Professional Coach, a Lean Six Sigma expert, and a Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence.

    He earned a Master’s in Management and one in Executive Leadership, to include study under Ken Blanchard. His resume reveals a consultant, corporate executive, author, and Marine Officer. But resumes can fail to summarize what’s important. A better summary relates he strives to be a servant to those he leads.

    Brian’s path has been different than most, but always one focused on excellence. This path eventually revealed life’s plan. He’s now fully dedicated to this pursuit, living in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada with his wife and his new dog. When not helping others in the pursuit of excellence, you can find him with his wife and that dog enjoying the mountains.

    “While many of the ‘20 Bad Habits’ are likely present in companies trying to move up from average, surely habit No 13, ‘Clinging to the Past’ is one of the larger detractors keeping many of them from moving closer to excellence.”

    Marshall Goldsmith, #1 Leadership Thinker and best-selling author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

    "Many people claim to be Lean experts. Most of them aren’t. Pursuing Excellence won’t teach you improved methods for Lean. But it will help you understand the bigger picture holding us back from transformational improvement."

    -- Shelley Gilliland, VP Operational Excellence, Leonardo DRS

    "To effectively lead people through tough times, leaders must create and apply a solid framework and strategy. Many speak of excellence, yet few can describe it, let alone lead people to achieve it. Strobel’s book provides leaders with the essential knowledge to accomplish this."

    -- Scott Shaffar, PHD, ME Design Program Leader, San Diego State University

    "Brian Strobel has lived and breathed operational excellence as a leader in both frontline fighter squadrons and in the corporate world. He is a master practitioner, who deeply understands the human element of driving exceptional performance."

    -- Matthew Leach, Partner, Boston Consulting Group

    "I’m pleased to see application of the Competing Values Framework continually expanded to help leaders interpret and understand their organizations. Pursuing Excellence deftly uses the framework to provide leaders insight to how they can move their companies from average to excellent."

    -- Robert Quinn, PhD, Competing Values Framework Co-Developer