March 1, 2006

Today I was browsing through Atul’s archives. Amidst many an interesting thought something caught my attention. It was a small piece on Mediocrity vs Excellence. In fact, it caught my attention because I related well to it. It is something which was on my mind since last few months.

Atul says that mediocrity, many a time, tries to pull excellence down. He gives a simple reason for this phenomenon. Mediocrity breeds insecurity.

Mediocrity pulling down excellence is perhaps a bitter truth of life, more so in corporate life. On many occasions I have seen that a mediocre can go to any length to protect his turf and derail excellence. And life can be pretty tough if mediocrity has an absolute majority at workplace. And even tougher situation is when mediocrity rules.

Any initiative by excellence to bring about positive changes is seen as a threat. And then mediocrity pulls up all the tricks from its sleeves to pull the rug from beneath excellence’s feet. It is frustrating at times depending on which side of the fence you are.

But the biggest loser is the organization. Excellence, sooner or later, will find its real place under the sun either in one organization or the other. But this practice of mediocrity pulling down excellence, if rampant in any organization, can hamper an organization’s growth as well as productivity. Chances are high that in sustained company of mediocrity, an organization will become staid and immobile. The negative vibes originating from the insecurity and Machiavellian scheming of mediocre will soon reflect on the face of the organization as well.

Moreover, an organization ruled by mediocrity cannot ever dream of innovative ideas and practices. It will always remain in its own little world like a frog in a well who thinks that the well is the world beyond which there is nothing. Breakthrough ideas and innovation come from the company of or an inclination towards excellence. In today’s world when everything is in a flux it is innovative ideas and their flawless execution that keeps an organization agile and growing. Progress cannot be expected from those who deride excellence and hate it.

I think, in near future, managing the tussle between excellence and mediocrity may become a key differentiator between leaders and laggards.