Excellence the Unifier

10 September 2019


Article No1                                       

For us here in South Africa many of our organisations, be they government departments, SOEs or public or private businesses, have largely neglected the focus on EXCELLENCE.

 The horror of corruption in many organisations would be a certain killer to creating “centres of excellence”. Peter Drucker, one of the first authorities to write about the concept of management, is quoted as saying managers must come with integrity. Any corruption by the leadership of an organisation totally demoralises staff. Excellence has paid dividends over the years, is what Peters is saying in his latest book. Excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.    

 In “The Excellence Dividend,” Peters describes the basic principles in excellence, they are not beyond our grasp, Peters book has 457-pages. In a short personal summary, 770 words, I highlight quotes from Peters’ book that have sustained organisations around the world to achieve standards of excellence.   

  • Excellence is seemingly small acts that shout “We care and which linger in the memories of those we interact with – our own people, our communities and our suppliers, putting people first.
  • Excellence is a culture; it is reflected in the staff’s attitude towards the coming day, excellence that translates into an emotional bond with customers and communities.  It cannot be replaced by algorithms.  Excellence is a human-driven affair, a state of mind, not a computer-generated exercise.  Excellence is sustained by a culture of excellence.
  • Excellence in management is a grand human achievement. More about this in the series.
  • “We are who we hang out with”.  Instinctively we might know this.  Peters devotes a chapter to this.  The point he makes, diversity of cultures is enriching to society, should be celebrated; it precedes excellence. This diversity is from the top down, a board of directors → managers → shop floor.: “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies” This is the title of a book by Scott Page, quoted in Peters’ book.
  • A passion for design – a differentiation or “the power of design”.  Steve Jobs of Apple fame might have put the power of design on the map.  It is a principle now. People have joy when their surroundings and equipment are aesthetically and beautifully designed”. That’s an incentive to achieve living areas that make a statement about quality and design.

Design = Care   Design = Thoughtfulness   Design = Elegance   Design = Avoiding insult  Design = Respect      Design = The best of human achievement Design = Contribution to human culture

The above is from Peters book

What a statement design makes.  And what an indictment on society when we don’t care what something looks like, what state it is in, the littering of our surroundings, often the spoiling of nature’s excellent creations.

  • Two other principles I picked up from the book: (1) “Listening” – the book rates fierce listening as a core value for leadership. (2) the power of the introvert. And we thought the noisy, charismatic personality, extravert is an important characteristic in leadership. Not at all, listening and thinking (often doubting) are important characteristics in EXCELLENCE.  

On leadership excellence, Peters does not in his book offer a grand design or a mystical formula for organisational or individual transformation.  To quote Peters “I avoid like the plague such words as “Vision”, “authenticity”, “disruption” and “transformation””.  He states, “I aim to be tactical and practical”. In the next article I will explore more on Leadership Excellence.

In South Africa; CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE are going to play a major role in getting our GDP growth up to 5% per annum. The pursuit excellence is not only for the economy and businesses, but for our schools, universities, libraries, hospitals, municipalities, government departments, political parties, SOEs, sports teams, clubs, farms and any organisation that wants to make a difference for the better.

Think Excellence…..make it a unifier in the road ahead as we overcome corruption and anything else that divides us South Africans 

By Neil Wright of Wright Publishing