The above quote from Peter Senge's great book "The Fifth Discipline" is one of those profound pieces of wisdom that, even when said out loud,, doesn't always capture the depth of the insight. Edward Deming, long before that, put it more humorously,
"That's our problem, everybody putting forward best efforts. We'd be so much better if a lot of people would just take turns coming to work, don't show up, get a newspaper on the way, take it easy. We are being ruined by best efforts. Let is pray that some people will hold back"
Students of Deming will of course see it as humour and not sarcasm for he also more famously said that "94% of the problems come from the system. the responsibility of management" and “95% of changes made by management today make no improvement.” (Deming, The New Economics, 1994).
Demings "System of Profound Knowledge", of which "Appreciation of the System" is his first point, overlaps with Senge's five disciplines and together they provide tremendous insight into embedding excellence in people and organisations..