Who Kidnapped Excellence?: What Stops Us from Giving and Being Our Best

(Available as audio book on Books247)

by Harry Paul (Author), John Britt (Author), Ed Jent (Author), & 1 more

Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (January 6, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1626560870

ISBN-13: 978-1626560871

Reviewed by Thanh Bui


“Excellence is a journey, not a destination”


According to the authors, the quest for excellence should never be a one-time event. It’s an on-going effort, and requires a lot of attention from leadership and employees. The book tells the story of how Gorman Scott Inc., a fictional company, didn’t even know that their “Excellence” had been gone until a ransom note was found in the office. The note reads:


“We have taken your Excellence. If you ever want to See your Excellence again, open your eyes & pay the Ransom.”


It turns out that team Excellence has been kidnapped by team Average.


Through personification, the book identifies 5 core elements of customer service excellence: passion, competency, flexibility, communication, and ownership. These “team members” must work diligently and consistently together to maintain their customer service excellence. Their roles in the Excellence’s team are:


  • Passion: inspires everyone with energy, enthusiasm, and caring.
  • Competency: ensures everyone has all the skills needed to do their best.
  • Flexibility: helps us respond to unique situations whenever they occur.
  • Communication: clearly communicates roles and expectations
  • Ownership: ensures everyone gives their best and takes 100 percent responsibility for their jobs.


Any imperfection from these members of team Excellence will open the door for team Average to take over. The authors walk us through the confrontation of the Excellence’s team members and their adversaries in team Average:


  • N. Different
  • N. Ept
  • N. Flexibility
  • Miss Communication
  • Poser


The story was unfolded in front of a bystander who also provides us with insightful reflections on his professional and personal lives. After all, according to the authors, customers are not only those who are buying our products and services, but they should be “the next person in the process”, whatever that process might be.


The authors dedicated the last chapter to showcase success stories from big and small businesses that we can all learn from: a coffee shop, Baptist Hospital, First Choice Home Medical, Southwest Airline, Mitchells Family of Stores, and The Galt House Hotel.

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