Most organisations found to be performing consistently above minimum requirements might feel they were being damned with faint praise. A far more satisfactory goal would be to consistently outstrip minimum standards.
But when the organisation concerned is Birmingham City Council - a body that only four years ago was regarded as one of the most incompetent local authorities in the country providing rotten services and sub-standard housing - the announcement by the Audit Commission of significant progress on most fronts is a landmark change of course.
The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition responsible for running the council since 2004 has had its critics, this newspaper among them occasionally, but today's Comprehensive Performance Assessment three-star grading strongly suggests that Britain's largest local authority is leaving the days of mediocrity behind and is beginning a journey towards excellence.
No one should underestimate the challenges facing city leaders four years ago in rescuing housing and social services from Government intervention. Standards were so bad that Birmingham came within a whisker of being forced to hand over control of two key departments to civil servants from London.
Let the coalition enjoy its moment of triumph, there were after all a great many pundits who thought the unlikely partnership would not last four weeks let alone four years.
But when the cheering has subsided and the sound-bites have been discarded it must not be forgotten that Birmingham council services, although vastly improved, are still some way from the best in the country. Housing remains at only two stars, denoting adequate performance at minimum requirements, along with transportation, waste disposal, libraries and leisure. It is hardly a ringing endorsement.
Those in charge of the council are becoming better managers, capable of meeting a number of important targets laid down by the Government. Services are improving as a result, but the city remains some way from the inspirational leadership of a Chamberlain-figure.
The challenge now is to rise above box-ticking exercises by taking Birmingham to a new level of efficiency. Council leaders are beginning to show they truly believe in change, by pushing through the pay and grading review and the 10-year business transformation strategy, but four-star excellence is still some way over the horizon.