Ranked as the “greatest business book of all time” in a 2002 poll by Britain’s Bloomsbury Publishing, this best-selling business book has long been a must-have for the boardroom, business school, and bedside table. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies (with Robert H. Waterman, Jr.), 1982
The book was primarily about three things, Listen to your customers. Take care of your people, and don’t let your values slip or slacken.
Tom Peters has searched the world over for businesses in Search of Excellence, he latest book The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE, 2010 continues the family of books on Excellence.
So why do I mention these books? Just this past week I had a brief online conversation after I posted a question on Twitter & FaceBook. It was a simple question meant to make you think about what Excellence looks like to you, and how do we measure it. So I’ll pose the question to you:
Is your Pursuit Quantity or Quality? – Or should it be Excellence?
Now the question seemed confusing but, two interesting comments / statements came back to me. One was a question that confirmed the confusion, having said that, it was an interesting thought.
How does pursuing quality differ from pursuing excellence?
My response even surprised me, and it got me to thinking:
Quality & Excellence are not the same thing. Quality is part of an equation that determines Excellence.
Another friend of mine kept it simple, but was it really?
My pursuit is to simply do my best at all times.
I possed another question.
There is the problem, how is your best measured, how do you know it’s your best?
The conversation continued for some time and again kept it simple:
Well, it’s measured in that moment of ‘doing’. I consciously know if I’m doing my best at any given time. Sometimes, we’re tired, and sometimes we’re completely energized – our best varies on where we are. I think we all know when we’re doing our best – like an internal barometer.
Still not happy with the answer, I drilled deeper not letting my friend off the hook:
Based on that statement, you only seem to know when you’re doing best by how you feel. Emotions are not always the best way to measure where one is at.
You must have some indicators that you monitor that keep you on track, that keep you focused, that ensure some sense of quality. Pursuing Excellence is a complicated set of habits that equal Excellence, but only you can set the standard of those habits, you are setting the bar for you business. If you don’t, someone else will judge you or your business on bad information / Excellence.
Two things struck me, there probably should be more than two, but….one, everyone seems to have a different view on how Excellence is measured. And two, I have come to the conclusion that there is this equation that takes you to a value called Excellence. This equation is something each business owner must look long and hard at, it doesn’t even have to be a business, anything in life that you measure and wish to have some level of Excellence. You or the business owner, has to set the bar, and those who experience you, your brand, and or your business will decide if it was Excellence. So there is alot to consider in the equation.
Is or has how we value Excellence changed because of technology, systems and more efficient ways of obtaining the almighty level of Excellence? Is Excellence easier to obtain because of technology, or ways of automating simple tasks?
Will the future of Excellence morph, will the definition of the word be changed because of how we measure Excellence? In my small understanding, Excellence would be a series of habits or action items done exceptionally well, how many habits makeup this equation, or do we go by how we feel? (not recommended)
The question is yours now, what does the equation of Excellence look like in your opinion?
After talking to many business owners and I.T. Execs here in my area, I’m convinced most don’t understand or see the change that is taking place and think Social Media is a waste of time, a fad. Most are bottom-line thinkers and there must be a result for ever action taken, an immediate return on investment. They say I don’t have time for that sh*t! It puzzles me how those who think in these terms consider themselves Revolutionary thinkers, Visionaries in their respective fields. It would seem to me that this is the ultimate oxymoron. These individuals understand bricks & mortar better than most but they struggle with the soft side of what’s happening with Social Media and refuse to believe that it has any influence on the bottom-line.
How could it be that these brilliant minds are missing the shift, unwilling to accept that their roles will be obsolete as they know them. The argument is valid, someone must do the work, and, someone must be in charge, well, sort of. The Executive(s) that understand we the people are going to tell him what and how things will go will win, he must listen and listen hard before making a final decision. I’m not saying dismantle your hierarchy right this minute, I’m saying prepare to allow for a flattening of management and an empowerment of your staff unlike anything you’ve planned for in the past. Open yourselves up to bringing strategic I.T. and Social Media consultants (thinkers) in to help guide and wade through this new environment, this new era of Social Media and what it will mean to you and your business. How 50 Billion Dollar Marketing Dollars will go to firms that are smaller and can move faster than the bloated organizations we know today.
There will still be a need for large ERP systems and the like but they too are changing, as we move towards Virtual Reality and Nanotechnology, these environments are being built via the Cloud today rather than in big rooms with SANS and mainframe like servers. In the future we all will be wireless device’s, we will integrate with technology, in some ways we already have, manual processes will disappear in such a way we won’t see it coming. This isn’t fear mongering, this is asking you to look outside of your four walls and take notice of what’s really going on with technology, spend time looking ahead and consult with those who can help you see what you can’t see now.
I.T. Exec’s – The Time Is Now! You may even be too late in some circles, much needs to be done and you need to get started if you haven’t already. Don’t do things in a vacuum or you will stay inside your four walls and try to use old thinking to get you of your Executive Box. I know most of it seems logical but trying to put an ROI to conversation(s) is confusing at best when you try to get there using traditional equations. There are some sharp people who can help you and you must be willing to allow them to lead you through the maze, if you are looking for someone in your area let me know and I’ll get you connected.
I could go on and on but I think you’re getting the picture, get outside the box and ride the wave rather than be whipped out by it!