The just-invented new four letter word that will save you

There has been more change in the past 5 years than the previous 50. Change will never be this slow again. To survive, we have to embrace a brand new four letter word. Without it, our careers and businesses will soon be history.

At the Cannes Creativity Festival in June 2011, I learnt a just-invented four letter word which I now use ten times a day: at work, when coaching myself, even with my children.

It’s a word that captures an attitude which is critical if we are to keep ahead of and thrive through the avalanche of change happening in business, and in our lives.

The word is Ebne…. And this is what it means.

Edward de Bono sat on the stage at Cannes and took us through a stream of consciousness of brilliance. Then he introduced us to Ebne. I grabbed it immediately and have used it to help our businesses strive for a higher level of performance.

‘Ebne’ means ‘Excellent, But Not Enough.’

De Bono says: “I invented this new word because there is a very real need for such a word. If you want to change something you have to attack it…. We do not have an easy way of saying something is excellent but not enough.”

How To Apply Ebne

We have to be relentlessly paranoid to safely navigate careers and businesses through turbulent, uncertain times. No-one knows what we need to do today to guarantee we succeed tomorrow.

I see a really good business growth plan from one of our businesses. “That’s Ebne,” I tell the leaders. “Excellent, but not enough. We have to find that extra 15% of thinking, ideas, innovation, edge to ensure we stay one step ahead. Let’s brainstorm, find it, build it into the plan.” The agenda for our annual kick-off STW Leadership meeting takes shape. We review it. It’s pretty damned good. “But it’s Ebne,” one of my colleagues asserts. “We need that extra 15%…. that WOW factor that will genuinely make it a meeting that inspires change and turbos growth.” We brainstorm. Do more work. Lift it by 15%.

I give a presentation to a client. They like it. Agree to the proposal. In the elevator I scold myself: “That was Ebne, Chris. Yes- it did the job just fine. But where was that extra idea- that extra insight- that surprised and delighted the client and gave them unexpected and useful new value.” I meet the team, we brainstorm. I call the client:  “Thanks for the meeting Bob. One idea I forgot to mention….”


Excellent but not enough. A new word for a new time. Embrace it. Make it part of your business and your attitude. It will help ensure you and your business can be the best you can be. And be a leader today, and tomorrow. With thanks to Edward de Bono.

>View a video of Chris retelling this post


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11 Responses to The just-invented new four letter word that will save you

  1. Stan Lee November 9, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Ex colleague and I have been working on each other’s personal brands over the last few days. Love some of our thinking but suspect it’s now time for us to apply some ebne.

    Thanx Chris. Inspirational as always!

    • Chris Savage November 9, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      Thanks! Good luck with it. Tell me how you go. Chris

  2. Samantha Allen November 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Love it Chris. Steve Jobs was a ‘tweaker’ according to his biographer – I think he would have loved Ebne too!

    • Chris Savage November 10, 2011 at 8:05 am #

      Thanks Samantha…It’s a good word!

  3. Michael Knox November 10, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    Thanks for the new word Chris. it’s a beauty. I look forward to getting more from it.

  4. Craig November 10, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Ah, this post was ebne 😉
    What i really want is for you to come run MY business.
    Excellent stuff (or is that ebnellent stuff?!)
    An african nephew! 😉

  5. Bart Wolkowski November 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Thanks Chris, this is probably the the best blog post I have ever read. It’s so totally relevant. Ebne simply and beautifully defines the mindset one needs to have to really succeed in today’s society.

    • Chris Savage November 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

      Thanks Bart- appreciate the feedback. Chris

  6. Sven November 12, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    How I know what I’ve been doing right all these years. I now have a word for it. Thanks Chris

    • Chris Savage November 13, 2011 at 11:36 am #

      Thanks Sven. I can understand how Ebne is already part of the Designworks DNA. One of the reasons it is such a high quality business. Chris


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