In search of excellence?… Well you should be!
I’m not referring to the book written by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, published in 1982. I’m simply referring to the only goal a person and an organisation should have – searching for excellence. Excellence in their service, products, communication, pricing, distribution, resource allocation, people…excellence in EVERYTHING!
Every mission and vision statement, every strategy, every organisational goal, each person’s MBO, HR’s hiring spec’s…basically everything a company does should be with one thing in mind, being excellent at it!
Ok so far nothing revolutionary (I know I’m not the first, nor the last person, to wave the excellence flag. For example, Seth Godin’s take on it is to be remarkable – thanks Jonathan for the introduction).
If I know this, and Seth knows this, hell the least business save person in the world my mum know this, then why are we not surrounded by excellence, by remarkable stuff?
I think the answer is quite simple. Excellence requires excellent people…and the truth is they are far and few between. But even more true is that companies don’t know how to spot them, recruit them, utilise them, motivate them and give them the tools to not only be excellent as individuals, but to excel in the corporate environment.
Can you imagine any company posting this job ad?
We are looking for excellent people, please apply if you qualify.
One phrase, nothing more, nothing less (but what a phrase!!!).
And then imagine a job interview with only three questions …
1. What is excellence to you?
2. Why do you think you are excellent?
3. What would it take for you to do something excellent for us?
And that’s it, no need for any further questions. No need to ensure the person comes from the same industry your company operates in, or that their job title is as similar as possible to the one you are hiring for, and no need to ensure that they spent the last 3 years doing exactly what you want them to do for you.
David Ogilvy said “hire people who are bigger than you, and we shall become a company of giants”. By that rational hiring excellent people should lead to an excellent company, and an excellent company should produce excellent products and services!
But the truth is we are not really looking for excellence when we hire, what we are looking for is more of the same. Qu’elle surprise that what we end up with are products and services that are…..more of the same…and very very very far from excellent!
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