The Mystery of Excellence

YOU CAN’T JUST DECIDE ONE DAY TO BE EXCELLENT THEN TRY TO HAND IT OFF TO OTHERS. IT IS BECAUSE OF YOUR EXCELLENCE, THAT EXCELLENCE WILL SPREAD THROUGHOUT YOUR TEAM. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOUR ROLE IS OR WHETHER OR NOT PEOPLE REPORT TO YOU. PEOPLE WILL SEE YOUR LEADERSHIP AND SAY, “BECAUSE OF THAT PERSON, I WILL BE EXCELLENT TOO”. EXCELLENCE DOES NOT START WITH YOU, IT IS BECAUSE OF YOU.

 

For over 30 years, I have been working to develop excellence in myself and in my organization. Over this period of time, I have developed a framework of 4 key components that are required to create excellence within your organization. These are Focus, Alignment, Investment, and Rewards. The proper application of these 4 tools will help you build a culture of excellence within your organization.

 

 

Focus

Just as humans need two eyes focused on a single point to have depth perception, a business needs two items to have focus and achieve organizational excellence: a Mission Statement and a Value Proposition.

 

Mission Statement

Ask yourself a seemingly simple question: What are you all about? The answer to this question is your mission statement, and if it is not, it should be.

The problem today is everyone has a mission statement. They have almost become such a routine part of business that they have lost their importance and relevance to the business that is being led by them. The other day, I was on a flight and overheard two people talking about starting a business. One said to the other, “Okay, so we should probably get a bank account, a logo, and oh yeah, a mission statement!”  Alright, so you called my bluff, this did not actually happen, but you get my point, and you can probably easily imagine the conversation. Take a minute to think about your mission statement, and make sure it answers the question: “What are you all about?”

 

Value Proposition

What is the difference between a mission statement and a value proposition? Is there a difference? The answer is yes, there is absolutely a difference, and you will see the difference by asking the question required to discover your value proposition: What makes you special?

 

Your value proposition is essentially your differentiation. What makes you different from the other 50 coffee shops in your 2 square mile radius? Maybe it is your comfort in your cafe. Maybe it is the outdoor patio in the back. Whatever it is, make sure it is captured in its entirety in your value proposition. And why not go for the gold? Why not aim to create a Black Hole Value Proposition? This is a value proposition that is so special and compelling, that you do not have to find customers. They find YOU! 

 

How To Write a Great Mission Statement and Value Proposition

  1. Make it SIMPLE

  2. Make it PERVASIVE

  3. Make it REPEATABLE

  4. Make it SUSTAINABLE

 

 

Alignment

The extension of your team does not end at the front door of your business. In order to have organizational excellence, you must be aligned with your constituents. A business’ constituents typically consist of 4 groups of people. First, there are employees who must be completely aligned with both your mission statement and your value proposition. Next, there are vendors who don't necessarily need to be aligned with your mission but should be very closely aligned with your value proposition. Then, there are your customers who should have the same alignment as your vendors. And finally, there are your owners who must be aligned with your mission, but not necessarily your value proposition.


 

Investment

If your aim is to create a culture of excellence, you must be willing to invest in the different components of your business. Take for example, the process of selecting vendors to provide raw materials for your manufacturing business. In making this decision, try to consider more than just price. Picking the cheapest vendor is not always going to be the best decision for you and your business. If you know that one vendor has greater scalability but costs slightly more, see that as an investment in that relationship that will yield returns down the road when your business grows needs vendors that can scale with it.

 

What about your employees? They are an investment, right? Wrong, hiring is not investing. Training, technology, equipment - those are investments in your employees. By investing in your employees, you are giving them tools and leverage. When you hire outside sales training for your sales team, for example, you are giving them the leverage they need to maximize their impact on your organization, and this, my friends, is a step towards organizational excellence.

 

 

Rewards

What you MEASURE, you will GET. Beware of the unintended consequences of the reward systems that you set up for your team. Establishing or changing the reward system in an organization is a unique challenge that we all will probably face at some point in our careers. I recently restructured my sales team and had to sit down and really think carefully about how I wanted to structure the reward system because as we all know, what you MEASURE, you will GET.

 

Unfortunately for me, I have worked for organizations where they measured time at your desk and rewarded it with fat bonuses at the end of the year. While this is a very old and outdated reward system, it still persists in many companies all over the world. What are you rewarding? What are you being rewarded for? Be careful not to reward time, activity, friendship, or personal perks (i.e. hiring someone who is a member at the country club). Instead, reward RESULTS. Reward EXCELLENCE.

 

Short-term goals should be met with short-term rewards. Long term goals should be met with long term rewards. What do I mean by this? Examples of short term goals are calls, contacts, and new contracts. These goals should be met with short term rewards such as bonuses, commissions, vacation days, and celebratory dinners. Examples of long term goals are value provided year after year and true excellence and mastery of a role. These long term goals should be met with long term rewards such as raises, promotions, title changes, and maybe even equity.

 

What now?

I hope that this post has challenged you to take a step back and really think about the way you are running your team and what kind of culture you are establishing. Carefully consider these 4 areas of establishing excellence in your team and make sure you are on the right track to building a culture of excellence.

 

Excellence does not START with you,

it is BECAUSE of you.

 

- Mark