What is "excellence" anyway?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Chair-Target Editorial Board

I’ve been asked many times “What do you mean by excellence?” There are some real answers and some fuzzy ones. Let’s start with the fuzzy ones, here are some:

    We’re doing the best we can.
    We’ve improved 50 percent the last year.
    I’m faster than the guy next to me.
    I went to xxx University, what else needs to be said?

The only problem with these explanations of excellence is that they are all superficial and not based on any benchmark data or criteria, and shows a lack of understanding of how you compare with somebody really great!

My definition of excellence is twofold:

  •     It really is a “journey!” You never get there because the finish line is always moving… sometimes faster that you are. It’s all about the speed of change and improvement!
  •     What criteria do you measure excellence? How do you measure and prove how good you are? In this age of the 21st Century we are really fortunate there are several proven criteria. Of Course the Japanese started it with their Deming Award that not only honored J. Edwards Deming but also set the bar high for excellence. Then came our Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award that was initiated by President Reagan to draw attention to our need to improve and recognize those who had made great strides. Early on it became an obsession with major companies.

Others that saw the need for criteria of excellence were Industry Week’s Best Plants Award, the Shingo Prize and the AME Excellence Award. All of these can add great value to your journey to excellence, especially when you get the feedback report that identifies your strengths and shortcomings. I was in a company that used the feedback report to design their strategic direction for the coming year. 

My summary is that it’s a long term effort to achieve excellence and once you think you’ve arrived then that’s dangerous to you and your company!

Continue the journey by using one of the criteria above annually---- and keep your blade sharp!