I recently attended a presentation by the author David Sturt, who spoke on the subject of creating great work as opposed to good work. David Sturt is an executive vice president of the O.C. Tanner Institute and author of The New York Times best-selling book, Great Work. This difference between good and great work is how people make a difference others love. He focused on how inspired employees rise above and contribute more than expected.

Though Sturt’s career began in market research, he enlisted two PhDs from Harvard and Cambridge to help him design a research study for the book. They first reviewed 10,000 samples of award-winning work. To gain further insight into what makes work great, rather than just good, they also conducted 200 one-on-one interviews. In the process, patterns that influenced the great work emerged and they organized them into five consistent skills. He summarized the common success factors into the following five skills:

Common Success Factors For Great Work

  • Ask The Right Questions

    • Great work begins when we ask the right people what they would love.
    • Think about the people your work serves; customers, team members and partners.
    • Ponder improvements with the recipients in mind.
    • Learn how to ask the right questions:
      • Pause before you begin
      • Consider who your work serves
      • Ask the questions to those who your work benefits
  • See For Yourself

    • Difference makers get out of their own bubble and look with their own eyes:
      • They observe everything and everyone affected by their work.
      • Difference makers watch what people do to see how people experience their work.
      • They look at the process to find out what’s working and what’s not.
  • Talk To Your Outer Circle

    • You won’t get any new ideas if you always talk to your inner circle. Your inner circle is always in a bubble. They are a lot like you.
    • Collect ideas and seek points of clarification from others.
    • All of the best thinking comes from the thinking of your outer circle.
  • Improve The Mix

    • Find out what you need to add and subtract to optimize the work or product.
    • Add what is missing and subtract what is not needed.
    • Look at things that people don’t like; imagine ways to reduce and simplify.
    • Bring old things together in new ways.
  • Deliver The Difference

    • Good workers stop when they feel like the work is good enough; great workers are obsessed with sticking with it until people love it.
    • The real value is created after the feedback from those who benefit from your work begins.
    • Insist on knowing what worked and why; stay with it relentlessly until people love it.
    • Create great work that inspires others; become a catalyst for great work.


The takeaway from his presentation and book is clear – everyone is capable of great work. They just need the environment and skills to ideate, innovate and deliver their product.  If you are looking to be inspired, or create passion in your workplace, I recommend this book.

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. We are proud to be independently-owned, with more that 300 employees nationawide. Learn more about our own company philosophy or our unique travel management services.

Mike Cameron

Mike Cameron

Mike Cameron; CEO of Christopherson, which is privately owned by him and his wife Camille. They have four children and nine grandchildren.

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