In the final days before opening the theme park, Walt Disney was out of money. There was still a lot of work to be done. There were lawns to be cut and weeds to be pulled. But the landscaper had already gone home because Walt could no longer pay.

In the final hours, Walt requested his people put signs with long Latin words up in front of the weeds. They would disguise the weeds as “exotic plants” and “desirable specimens.”

Walt knew that he didn’t need to be great on day one; He only needed the gates to be open and the park to be good. The business world is obsessed with this idea of ‘good to great.’

But the leap to great is impossible if you’re not good. Now there’s nothing wrong with being really good, but there’s a lot wrong with being dismal.

This doesn’t mean cutting corners is okay and accepting sloppiness is adequate, or churning out piles of crap is good business practice. Far from it. But as my business mentor, Alan Weiss often says, ‘success trumps perfection.’

To me, it’s all about the fundamentals. I think back to playing on various travel basketball teams growing up. It didn’t matter how good you were at or what level you were starting at; a great coach always started with the fundamentals.

Here are a few examples.

* An automated customer service line that hangs up on customers is dismal. In the coming weeks, I’ll share an example of exactly that from one of the five largest banks in Canada.

* Telling me someone will respond in three days but then taking eleven, is dismal.

* Sending a Tuesday Tidbit to a customer once and them not sending them another until next November is dismal. In marketing, consistency almost always trumps quality and quantity.

* Asking me to re-tell a service related issue for the third time, to three different people is dismal.

* Only communicating with your customers when there’s business to be had is dismal.

* Refusing a $1.73 chocolate bar (see here) to a doctor who just saved another customer’s life is dismal.

Now that’s not to say ‘Great’ isn’t possible.

In fact, here’s the kicker. If you get the fundamentals right, the leap to great isn’t insurmountable; it’s more like a puddle jump.

The majority of most companies are setting the bar relatively low.

Good is actually good enough.

Good can actually be pretty great.

Today’s Key Question: When is the last time you defined “great” for your business? How about ‘good?’

Are there areas of your business where you’re dropping the ball? When was the last time you checked the fundamentals? Is it time for a check-up? If so, we can help you with this.