How does one create excellence in an organisation?
First, we create an obsession with excellence. We must dream of it not only because it delivers better results but because we truly believe in it and find it intrinsically satisfying to us.
We must think of excellence not only with our mind but also with our heart and soul. Let us look outside, at the global standards of excellence in quality, cost and delivery and let us not rest till we surpass them.
Second, we need to build a collective self-confidence. Organisations and people who pursue excellence are self-confident. This is because excellence requires tremendous faith in one's ability to do more and in a better way. Unless, we believe we can do better, we cannot.
Third, we must understand the difference between perfection for its own sake and excellence. Time is of essence. Globalisation has made the customer only more impatient. This may seem like a paradox: should we aim for excellence or should we aim for speed?
Excellence is about doing the best we can and speed lies in doing it quickly. These two concepts are not opposed to each other; in fact, speed and timeliness are important elements of quality and excellence.
Fourth, we must realise that we cannot be the best in everything we do. We must define what we are or would like to be best at and what someone else can do better.
Excellence is no longer about being the best in India. It is about being the best in the world. We have to define what our own core competencies are and what we can outsource to other leaders. Headaches shared are headaches divided.
Fifth, we must create processes that enable excellence. Today, there are a number of global methods and processes available whether it is Six Sigma, CMM or ISO. Use them because they are based on distilled wisdom collected from the best companies in the world.
Also, we must build a strong foundation of information technology, because in this complex, dynamic world, it is imperative that we use the most modern tools to keep processes updated.
Sixth, we must create a culture of teaming. I have found that while great individuals are important, one cannot have pockets of excellence. Quality gives ample opportunities to build a culture of teaming. Cross-functional teams that are customer facing can cut through an amazing amount of bureaucracy, personal empire building and silos and deliver savings that one would not have imagined possible.
The other advantage of building teams focussed on quality is that the teaming culture eventually spreads to the rest of the organisation and teaming becomes a way of life.
Seventh, invest in excellence for the future. Future always seems to be at a distance. But it comes upon you so suddenly that it catches you by surprise, if not shock. What constitutes excellence in the future will be significantly different from what it is today.
In these days of severe market pressures, there is big temptation to sacrifice the future to look good in the present. We must certainly trim our discretionary expenses, but we must ensure that our investments in strategic areas that lead to excellence in the future are protected.
Finally, excellence requires humility. This is especially needed when we feel we have reached the peak of excellence and there is nothing further we can do. We need an open mind to look at things in a different way and allow new inputs to come in.