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Why Pursuing Excellence Lead to Continuous Improvement

Updated: Jan 26

The #2

Noel Hennessy, Continuous Improvement Director, Lake Region Medical Ltd. Galway Ireland, said: “I think being part of an enterprise excellence environment is being never satisfied. Constantly moving forward, constantly thinking. I remember reading one time about this top company and what kept them the top company was believing they were #2. If we start thinking that we are #1, someone else is going to creep up behind us. I thought that was powerful way of looking at it. (1)

The Power of … Yet

Carol Dweck the author of “Growth Mindset” describes the Power of … Yet, the power of believing that you can improve. She said: “People with a growth mindset, believe that abilities can be developed—they are more likely to see effort as something that propels learning and to see setbacks as opportunities to build new skills”.

This is valid for individuals at all levels in the organization, for leaders and associates. And if we look at the culture in our organizations, the way leaders perceive their employees could be a differentiator for building a culture:

- That focuses on experimentation and continuous learning.

- Where leaders know how to nurture continuous improvement, positive motivation, and believe in the capabilities of their people and their ability to take the company to higher levels of performance.

- Where everyone in the organization seeks to get better and better, never satisfied with good enough, and always look for opportunities to take leaps forward.

I like to think that in organizations, we are on a learning curve for improvement and hence when we apply the principle Seek Perfection, (2), we Pursue Excellence and develop a process of continuous improvement to take us closer to that. There is a need to see what one wants, the goal, and how to work toward it. Seek Perfection is often referred to as searching for the “True North”, an aspiration not likely to be achieved in all cases, but the pursuit of which creates a mindset and culture of continuous improvement.

Imagine if we can get all our employees to believe that they can develop a growth mindset and pursue excellence to improve. In this case, the consequences will be employees who:

- Embrace challenges.

- Persist in the face of setbacks and are resilient in times of disruption.

- See effort as a path to mastery.

- Learn from feedback.

- Find inspiration in the success of others.

What does this mean in more practical terms?

We need to Identify behaviors that challenge the status quo and create a shift in mindset to believe one can continuously learn and improve. Some systems and tools will support such transformation, for example:

- Suggestion scheme for idea generation

- Continuous development program

- Breakthrough thinking

- Lean eight waste

- Knowledge management

- Creativity workshops

- Brainstorming

- Problem-solving tools

Implementing the right tools and systems in organizations will drive the correct behavior needed to achieve objectives.

(1) From the book: Discover Excellence, an overview of the Shingo Model and Its Guiding Principles, p 13.

(2) Principles are universal and timeless, evident and govern consequences. Think of “gravity” as an example, we all know its consequences, it is evident in the way we are connected to the earth, and it is true anywhere and at any time. The Shingo Model for Organizational Excellence is based on 10 Guiding Principles and helps organizations transform their culture, by focusing on People, Purpose, and Process. “Seek Perfection” is one of the Shingo Model 10 Guiding Principles, in the continuous improvement dimension (Process).

Nancy Nouaimeh

Culture Transformation and Excellence Culture

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