One of barriers to lasting business excellence is what we refer to in Six Disciplines for Excellence as "organizational entropy." In essence, it's what happens when even the best performing businesses - lose their edge.
Gary Whitehair, over at High Performance Business, refers to the same challenge in his article "Don't Allow Your HPB to Drift."
The definition of entropy is "...a measure of the degree of disorder in a system."
BOTTOMLINE: "Businesses are subject to forces like entropy. Once a business makes plans, the chaos of everything around it gradually erodes those plans. An organization must have a systematic and ongoing way to offset these forces, or it will eventually become ineffective to the point that its survival will be at stake." (page 35, Six Disciplines for Excellence)
"The forces of (organizational) entropy will rapidly cause increasing amounts of time to be spent on low-priority activities, if not proactively addressed. The Six Disciplines Methodology is designed to continually refocus people on what's important, to offset the urgent forces that distract them." (page 57, Six Disciplines for Excellence)