BY Glen Edward Quiring
Excellence is not an aspiration. It is the next five minutes. - Peters #organizationalhealth #excellence #vitality
Don't wait for excellence.
Business and Organizations alike can often feel the press of needing to raise the bar as they provide goods as services. It always feels urgent. Soon after a long winded discussion, the urgency abates and everything is "back to normal".
I am convinced this is because excellence quickly becomes abstract. The conversation inevitably moves to "if we would only do THIS thing, or THAT thing. . . ".
I can't account for why this happens but it does. The only solution for such behavior I believe is found in Peter's quote above. Excellence needs to move from a topic of discussion to the way we operate day in and day out. Excellence isn't an idea. It is a verb the impacts our strategies AND our operations.
Try this. Next time your staff begins to talk about how things "should" be done in the future stop the conversation and rearrange your meeting agenda so excellence can have it's way in the current meeting. This essentially means giving up long winded dialogues about "what we should do" in favor of what we will implement right now in the moment followed by a promise (at least an action item for the next meeting ) to measure results and followup on its impact.
Excellence can have an impact on your staff. Just don't wait for it. Just do it.
Tradition and change are strange bedfellows.
Traditions are everywhere: families have traditions, schools have traditions, churches and corporations have traditions. People worship, teachers educate, governors govern.
Traditions acknowledge our accomplishments (educational). Traditions spark our imagination (vision). Traditions foster confidence. Traditions seep into the most mundane of our daily routines. To put it simply, tradition(s) adds value to our lives.
But tradition is also a double agent, an evil genius, if you will. It can spark imagination, but it can also snuff it out. It can foster confidence but it can undermine initiative. Tradition can express meaning through shared beliefs or create mundane events that isolate our understanding. When it adds value, everybody loves it. When it becomes Dr. Evil, everyone despises it.
Tradition(s) grows out of formative life stories. Most people love a tradition because they know the story that gives life to it. Remember when Hewlett Packard merged with Compaq? This was a battle of narratives: HP employees and board members knew change was imminent. How? They told and retold the HP story, the Hewlett Packard Way which served as a guiding force to its corporate mission, vision, and values. A merger with Compaq would mean a loss of this fundamental narrative.
Alas, all traditions, it seems to me, have a limited life cycle. This means that at some point tradition gives way to change.
Leaders know the value of change. But they also must also respect tradition. To Lead, consult, and manage change we must become experts at uncovering the narratives that spawned the tradition. When we understand this narrative we are then equipped to provide a new narrative; a narrative that respects the past, but fashions and tells a new vision that inspires new processes, new activities, new "traditions".
To be a great leader, respect tradition while making room for change. Really, the bed is beg enough for both. And in point of fact, one can't exist without the other.
Achieving vitality sometimes is more art than science. On the other hand, sometimes a simple list is enough to get us going down the right path.
Here is today's top five items to foster vitality in your leadership or business:
1. Be willing to fail.
2. Always be planning new experiments.
3. Always be learning.
4. Work at imagination.
5. Engage in activities that renew your strength and motivation.
I recently traveled from California to Missouri and then back again. My family and I frequented restaurants, rest stops, gas stations, hotels, gift shops. Without exception, what caused us to think highly of any particular visit was our hosts attention to details designed to make our visit "nice".
Organizational strategy is a key component in vitality. Never emphasize strategy, however, at the expense of the details. Every tiny detail creates a positive experience for your guests. Every positive experience translates into a larger fan base.
Strategies are critical in war. But the battles are won with masterful handling of the details. So, invest today in the little things. It will have huge payoffs tomorrow.
Last week my family and I crossed desserts, went through mountain ranges, and cruised through valleys and plains. The diversity from one ecosystem to the next - sometimes within the same state -- was impressive.
I appreciated these diverse geographies. They were new and refreshing. When we returned to California, I realized -- like many others, I think -- that I prefer my home context. I've lived within that context most of my life. I don't think about how I live there, I just do it.
If you operate a business or lead an organization, you too are part of an ecosystem. And, interestingly enough, unlike your personal life, the life of your organization or business is highly dependent on your operating or business plan.
As we meandered through the states, we slept overnight in hotels along the way. In every case, their business plan was obvious. These plans seemed to vacillate between two extremes. On the on hand were hotels generate profit by managing (limiting) expenses -- spend little and maximize revenue. In these hotels we enjoyed complementary breakfasts of powder eggs, bacon which tasted like cardboard, and second rate cereals. On the other end of the spectrum were hotels that lived to create a good experience for their customers. The hallmark of these hotels lie in attention to the details. The swimming pool was clean, the spa was hot, treadmills worked. The staff seemed to go out of their way to provide service and the bacon was really good. For these hotels, each customer was an investment in future revenue.
Regardless of the kind of enterprise -- for profit or not for profit, government, educational or religious -- your success lie in your capacity to identify your context (your ecosystem), foster understanding of that context within your organization, and operate with intention. Work your plan so that it resonates with that context and watch your business thrive.
The walls displayed graffiti, the windows were broken and the doors were all boarded up; it was a scab on an otherwise high functioning corner. Directly across the street was the king of town: gambling, shopping, eating, entertainment. He was a one veritable one stop resort area. Across from it stood his cohorts. Two other well known and high functioning casino resorts.
How does this happen? That is, how can this corner, this worn out old casino and hotel, remain under developed on a prominent corner in the largest gambling city in North America? Better yet, while investors built and rebuilt areas of their gambling resorts, what was happening on this neglected corner?
I don't really know and it would be foolish to assume too much. But it reminded me that vitality in any enterprise is a continuous cycle. A business never "arrives" at success in such a way that continual investment isn't viable.
All ecosystems - regardless of their nature - have a cycle of renewal. When renewal and growth cease to function, the ecosystem breaks down, the life cycle ceases.
What will you invest in today?
www.getvitality.org by Glen Edward Quiring is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.getvitality.org.