We have this obsession with perfection that actually may be a detriment to our success. When you strive for perfection, you make everything black and white. You either achieve perfection or you fail. It’s as simple as that.
But when you strive for excellence, there is no finish line because excellence is in the eye of the beholder. Each organization and each individual has their own definition of what excellence would mean for them so you never actually “achieve” it. The success is in the journey.
Striving for excellence and pursuing it allows for incremental improvements. This ability does not exist when you focus on perfection. Even though when you try to achieve perfection you will inevitably make incremental improvements, you will never take advantage of them because of your pursuit of the perfect solution. Until you find that solution, you will consider the endeavour a failure.
When you strive for excellence, however you define it, you remove the pressure to be perfect. You don’t have to find the ultimate solution, only one that improves the current situation. Those constant incremental improvements are what separates the great companies and the great people from everyone else.
They are satisfied with incremental improvement because they are not chasing the abstract concept of perfection, they are chasing their own definition of excellence.
What’s your definition of excellence for you and your organization? I think once you answer that question you will have a clearer vision of where you want to be.
I often talk about innovation and how if organizations are not innovating and adapting, the only news we will read about them is that they are bankrupt. So let’s give credit to HMV Canada for being innovative and recognizing that the world of music has changed.
HMV operates more than 100 stores in Canada, selling CDs, DVDs and other audio and video recordings. Today they launched a digital music service called The Vault. Users can sign up for a subscription based service to stream music (and eventually movies) or even download them to a phone or mp3 player. Bravo to HMV Canada for recognizing this changing customer need and doing something about it.
The president of HMV Canada, Nick Williams, said, “We absolutely believe we should provide people with music in any way they choose to experience it, whether that’s (to) download, stream it…or come into stores and buy it physically.” What an enlightened way of thinking.
This is a great example of innovating to meet new customer demands. It’s what Blockbuster should have done with movies (although Netflix is glad they didn’t) and what Indigo and Barnes and Noble should do with books (although Amazon is glad they didn’t).
Read my article on redefining operational excellence, published for China’s leading supply chain magazine, CHaINA.
There is a difference between having the desire to change, the ability to change and the capability to sustain the change. You need all of these to be successful.
Last week I stayed at the Pierre hotel in New York City. A great property with a great view of Central Park and even greater service. It is one of the only remaining hotels (I think there might be one other in New York) that still uses elevator attendants to move you up and down the floors.
After my stay, I took a few minutes to complete the survey that I was sent. I usually do this because if I have something valuable to add, I want to help the organization improve. In this case, I had a great experience but provided feedback that for the rate that people were paying to stay at the hotel, it was difficult for me to wrap my head around being charged $12 per day for Internet access. In this day and age when we are always connected, Internet access should be included with any hotel room.
To my surprise, I received an email from the Pierre’s Director of Guest Relations within a few hours of completing the survey. Now talk about providing a personal touch! I thought this was a great example of going the extra mile. The email thanked me for my stay and for taking the time to complete the survey, but also addressed my issue about Internet access directly. This just showed that someone took the time to actually read my comments and address them specifically.
This is not something that most companies do so I applaud the Pierre and Taj Hotels for implementing a culture that encourages this kind of extra effort by its’ employees. In a world where communication is becoming less and less personal, acknowledgement of a customer’s concerns is a great strategy.
As I’ve said before, you don’t always need to do something extraordinary to stand out from the crowd.
In an earlier post, I talked about how technology is used in the workplace is not aligned with the way employees use technology away from the workplace.
What I mean doesn’t relate to updating hardware and software or getting the latest version of something, but more about how people communicate and making sure organizations align how they use technology to achieve specific outcomes.
Outside of work people use mobile phones and tablets and other technology to stay in constant contact with one another, share information, gather information, search for resources, etc. They expect immediate results. Yet in many organizations, technology is not used for collaborating or communicating quickly and effectively. In fact, it’s the opposite and can act as a hindrance to performance because the objectives for using the technology were not considered appropriately before it was implemented . Hence the reason you see many people with two mobile devices, one for work and one for personal use, which makes little sense to me.
If technology is not supporting employees to do their job as quickly and effectively as possible, then there will be lost opportunities, hence the impact on profit.
I’m not suggesting that organizations always determine technology decisions based on how employees are using it away from the office. I do think however, that technology adoption would be higher inside organizations if it was used in a way that was better aligned with the way people are using it outside of the office.