In the words of Harold R. McAlindon, “The quality of an organization can never exceed the quality of the minds that make it up.” This is candidly one of the best quotes that every entrepreneur must keep very close for quick reference any time they are making important decisions about the business. I largely agree with Harold’s viewpoint here, and I think this is one of the self-assessment areas for entrepreneurs. I mean, you need to sometimes sit back and reflect on the quality of your enterprise. So, what does this reflection or self-examination give you anyway? Does your reflection confirm that indeed you are on top of a quality enterprise, or not? Does it tell you that you are somewhere along the curve, or you are simply scratching with the turks instead of flying with eagles?
I’m not going to be your judge. Ok? Additionally, you don’t need to blame me for bringing out the issue of quality in an enterprise. You could be terrible in this. The parameters of measuring enterprise or organizational quality can be very diverse and daunting. Nevertheless, the market and society out there can have good ideas about what they would classify as qualitative enterprises. I’m talking about a rational and balanced market here. If you bribe your way into people’s heart and they get blinded to the extent of calling black white that is up to you! At least you can rest assured that I’m not with you in that line. Do you understand what I mean? I like being part of enterprises that offer quality goods and services in a responsible and accountable way to all stakeholders, the environment and even the future generation.
So, let me now proceed to document my points as to why I think the quality of an enterprise can never exceed the quality of the minds in that enterprise.
- The world is fast moving towards a knowledge based world. Intellectual capital will rule the business world. If this is the case Mr. Entrepreneur, the quality of people you have in your enterprise (including yourself) to a large extent determines the quality and future of your business. The world is changing trend. The dynamic and competitive business world is no longer a game of size only as it used to be! Smaller is getting better than bigger. Wise is having an advantage over strong. Indeed some renowned organizational consultants today argue that the future of global business belongs to the fleas and not the elephants. The ability to turn swiftly to change is vital. An elephant is pretty slow. Intellectual capital is what is going to be a major determinant of success in the future. You should stop thinking that building a humongous organization spanning the land, sea and air will make you great and rich. No! Smaller and medium sized enterprises maximizing on their intellectual capital will make better returns on capital invested and serve clients better. So you need to watch this trend Mr. Entrepreneur! I’m just speaking the truth in love.
- Understanding and executing good performance management is required for organizational quality. Do you know that business performance is to a large degree dependent on the people you have? Do you understand why the best businesses today search for and try very much to attract and retain the best human capital or the best minds? Talking about human capital, I do hope you have graduated from human resource to human capital – or intellectual capital whatever. I agree with some people who think that humans are more than a resource. So, as a starting point, how will your enterprise even know how to measure business performance for example, if you have people who are clueless about current business performance measures? Do you know that the very performance measurement has changed over the years? Performance management has changed over time with profit orientation transformed to customer orientation; individual measures transformed to team measures; comparisons with standards transformed into improvement monitoring; short-term orientation transformed into long-term ones; efficiency transformed into values etc. Generally traditional performance measures have been largely overtaken by innovative and relationship based performance measures. Performance measurement models are also changing. This is not a license to operate at a loss or inefficiently because focus is moving away from profits and individual efficiency. Ok? Therefore, the quality of your enterprise will largely depend on the quality of the minds you engage and retain. Don’t you agree with me?
- Qualitative and excellent goods and services that delight the customer can only come from qualitative minds and action, and these determine the quality of an enterprise. Customer or client satisfaction is transforming into client delight. Customer care centers are changing into customer delight centers. You are not going to rely on some clueless human beings to deliver excellent goods and services that will keep your customers and clients smiling always, and referring more business to your enterprise. Are you? By the by, don’t expect the best from your staffs when you the leader cannot do your best. Ok? The starting point is you the entrepreneur. You have got to style up first and adopt modern trends in business management. Set your mind free from fossilized ideas. Don’t call your staff names when you are also a big problem to your enterprise. So, what I’m saying is this. Quality people and minds in an enterprise will utilize quality resources and means to produce quality goods and services that delight customers – hence making the enterprise a quality enterprise that is a household and industry name. Got it?
- Fundamentals of quality enterprises such as strategy, leadership, process management, customer and market focus, human capital strategy and information analysis all require qualitative minds at the top. Now here we are talking about some of the enterprise cornerstones that have created ranks in business globally. I mean, you can move away and stay above the pack when you get some of these principles right. Mr. Entrepreneur, do you know the difference between leading and managing a business? Do you understand what strategy is and how it differs from your business tactics? Do you know that good business process management can guarantee you clients or customers who will keep coming back? What about the market? Do you know your market, and does your market know your enterprise? Do you work towards delighting your customers, or just to be another name in the big business world? Is your enterprise making the best use of information to compete? Have you ever heard about business analytics and intelligence? Does your human capital strategy give you a competitive edge? Come on, I don’t intend to ask you questions until you get annoyed! Ok? I’m just trying to engage your mind on things that you should be focusing on through qualitative minds in your enterprise to improve the quality of the business.
- Continuous improvement (Japanese kaizen) demands for continuous innovation and learning. If you are an avid reader of my blog, I guess you could have realized that I’ve fallen in love with this Japanese word ‘kaizen’. I think to me it’s a starting point to my connection to those Japanese guys. Those folks are ahead of the world in some things and I think some of the principles they use such as the kaizen principle account for this. I know I have defined and written about this before, and I don’t like to sound old school or growing old very fast by repeating this. However, I also know that someone in some part of the world reading this blog might not have come across this concept in their entire life. I swear. We also have young people who have not had the exposure or privilege to such knowledge. So, I will briefly explain this. Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning continuous improvement of work practices, personal efficiency etc. It means making positive changes on a regular basis. I know that some people have argued that the original meaning of kaizen in Japanese has nothing to do with continuous. I’m not going to enter into that argument. I will use the words of Wole Soyinka, the famous Nigerian poet, and say that “I rise above taunts and remain unruffled.” I’m not Japanese and hence I’m not going into that gymnastics of the true meaning and root of kaizen. I leave it to them. What I want you to know is this, Mr. Entrepreneur. Only quality minds can adapt and use kaizen as a means to improve the quality of your enterprise. Only quality minds can learn and innovate endlessly. Minds that lack quality will get stuck in the past or the present while the dynamic business world is moving onto new experiences, thinking and practices.
- Today’s concerns relate to issues such as the environment, greening, sustainable supply chains, responsible innovation, accountability and responsibility to various stakeholders etc. Finally, today’s business world has gone beyond machines and chimneys (including noise by the way); workers, profit only attitude, crave for scarce resources etc. You can argue with me if you like, because I know that some people still think otherwise. However, I’m convinced that the world is moving on. Today you receive emails with a polite request (and impolite ones sometimes) to consider not printing the mail due to environmental concerns. Humans are destroying trees faster than ever, and without replacement – all in the name of production. The quality of gas emission has forced some renowned car manufacturers to recall thousands of vehicles. Environmentalists have literally stopped some mega-investments and led to withdrawal of some products from the market. Innovation is tested against the principle of providing the common good to human kind and not causing harm. The stakeholder is no longer the capitalist only. Today you could get into trouble if you are found to be using under-age workers. Today your enterprise must no longer just procure, but also have in place programs to ensure sustainability of that supply source. Do you understand me? Now, tell me if you are going to achieve this with an opaque business leadership and team. Do you smell the coffee?
Hey! I think you now know why I had to write this article! I think you now understand why the quality of your enterprise can never exceed the quality of minds you have in the enterprise. Candidly, this guy Harold had something nice. His experience over many years as a business executive and later transforming into a business consultant taught him some few things. As he has influenced my thinking; so I will influence your thoughts. Get me right. I’m not a proud and high minded man. I’m only sharing this knowledge with people who need them and are happy acquiring such. If you think it’s petty, or you are already above these, simply leave it and move on. Ok? It’s not a force. However, I know that there are many people out there that need it. I’m passionate about building and developing entrepreneurs. So pall, you are not gonna stop me………. I wanna think and act 360 degrees!
Bye for now, and have a terrific new week ahead,
The Wise Entrepreneur
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