from Edward de Bono and Robert HellerImitating excellenceYou can learn some valuable lessons in the pursuit of excellence from observing other managers from a distance - so long as you bear the following four principles in mind:
The Four Principles of Excellence
1 Excellent financial results cannot be equated with excellence: results may not last, and may not spring from superior management.
2 Your observations should relate to your needs and circumstances: avoid following courses of action that add no value to your business.
3 Shun lip-service. Methods or approaches that suit you and your business should be sought out, adopted, and adapted.
4 Any remedy is only good for as long as it works: do not become slavishly committed to a modus operandi for ever.
The eight attributes of success
In addition to observing the four principles listed above, use the eight attributes of success described by Peters and Waterman to provide a valuable checklist, and a spur to striving for excellence. These attributes translate into the following highly penetrating personal questions to ask yourself:
• What is the time-lag between your confronting an issue and reaching a decision, and between having made the decision and taking action?
• Do you use the fewest possible people for the highest possible output in the most effective possible set-up?
• Are you in regular, personal contact with customers, and do you use the contact constructively to increase their satisfaction?
• Do you manage people policies in order to achieve rising productivity and employee satisfaction?
• Do you delegate fully and effectively, allowing your staff the freedom to do their best?
• Do you have one strong guiding principle?
• Do you concentrate on what you are really good at?
• Do you keep tight control over the "housekeeping", while allowing plenty of latitude in creative work?
You will probably find yourself unable to answer "Yes" to all eight questions. Go back and look at the questions to which you answered "No", and work out what you need to do to take steps to change the negatives to positives.
It is significant that none of the eight attributes refers to financial results. This is because the attributes are concerned with your performance as a manager, and financial results are a product of your performance. All the same, in conjunction with the eight key attributes, there are five financial questions which will give you vital indicators of how you are performing:
The Five Financial Questions
1 Are you creating wealth?
2 How highly do investors rate your company?
3 How efficiently are you investing capital?
4 How well are you using the shareholders' money?
5 How effectively are you managing costs and revenues and thus the all-important gap between them?
Balance is everything: you can have excellent results on all five counts while managing poorly in key aspects, but you are not managing well if your answers to the five questions are negative. Remember, the product of excellence is excellent results - financial or non-financial.