The Road to Excellence – Demystified
At my seminars and workshops on Performance Excellence, the most frequently asked question is: What is the difference between Quality and Excellence?
My long answer starts with a question to the participants: Who defines Quality?
The response is typically: The Standards Organization. And they are right. But….does this Quality attract customers?
Let’s imagine a typical conversation between me and a participant. Let’s call this participant Sam.
Me: Sam, in the business world, Quality is defined by the customer. The customer is the final inspector. Further, the customer pays your salary .So, the strategy should be:
- Chase your customer. Not your competition.
- Understand the stated and latent needs of customers, proactively.
- Translate these needs into product / service features.
- Design capable processes to deliver these product / service features, that in turn satisfy customer needs.
Sam: Is that all?
Me: Not so. Remember, the competitors are also proactively meeting customers. For the same reason. So our mantra should be: Better, Faster, Cheaper, Different.
Sam: Thank you. Is that all?
Me: No Sam. Employee satisfaction is a prerequisite for customer satisfaction. Employees are internal customers! Their needs are Just-In-Time inputs from the internal supplier(s).
Sam: Great. Now I understand. Is that all?
Me: Well, not really. We also have society as a customer. We need to create an eco-system where society is seen as a key customer. Their needs are: Jobs; Skills; Healthy Environment.
Sam: Ah ha. Finally, I understand. Is that all?
Me: Not yet. The most important customer is Mother Earth. Our business sits within the larger system of nature. This larger world includes living, and regenerative resources (forests, croplands, fisheries). We harvest these resources.
The larger world also has non-regenerative resources (oil, minerals). These resources can only be depleted.
Further, in the process of harvesting and extracting resources to produce and use goods we generate waste. The waste damages the ability of nature to replenish resources. Mother Earth is crying for survival.
Me: Sam, when you satisfy the needs of your External Customers + Internal Customers + Society + Mother Earth you achieve Excellence.
Sam: Who does this?
Me: Tata companies, Godrej companies, Aditya Birla Group companies, Jain Irrigation, amongst others.
- I have seen a rose garden enveloping the manufacturing plant at Vikram Cement.
- I have seen Tata Chemicals save the whale shark from extinction.
- I have seen Jain Irrigation conserve every drop of water.
- I have seen the Godrej Group save the lungs of Mumbai.
- I have seen exotic birds migrating from Siberia to the manufacturing plant at Indo Gulf Fertilisers.