The quotation I inserted as an epigraph above was known to have come from the American steel magnet and billionaire, Andrew Carnegie. That quotation aptly reveals the secret of dominating any market – the ability to do your duty and a little more! The ‘…a little more’ is even more important than doing your duty because that’s what really gives you a competitive advantage. Its not just enough to do your duty, you’ll have to do it a little more if you want to defile the odds and dominate the market.
There was the story of executives at an American company trying to sell a certian machine to a company in Japan. After numerous emails and phone calls, it appeared that the American company had cut a deal. But they will first have to ship one of the machines to Japan, where it would undergo a thorough inspection. If it could meet the Japanese buyer’s strict quality standards, which as it turned out were higher than those of the U.S. domestic market, then the American firm could close their sale.
As expected the machine arrived on time and the Japanese began immediately to test and inspect it. Then the machine was dismantled so that each component could be examined meticulously. At every step of the process, the laser passed inspection with flying colors.
The Japanese were happy and willing to go on with the deal. But suddenly one of the managers took a look at the packaging and caught a glimpse of something that didn’t look quite right. Peering into the shipping carton to get a closer look, he found a shoe print left behind by one of the packagers at the American facility.
The buyer could find no reasonable explanation for the footprint besides sloppiness, because the inside of a box is never exposed from the time it is die-cut to when it is folded by machine into its boxy shape. There and then they decided to repackage the machine into its box along with the following message: “If you can manage to get a footprint in the box, I can’t imagine what you might have done to the product.” It took another two years for the American company to close that sale. Imagine the increased time, money, and resources that were expended within that span of time because the seller lost an opportunity through its back door. The case would have been different had the American company done their job and more.
Clearly all organisations that are high performing take excellence seriously. For them excellence is not just an act, it’s a culture, a way of thinking. Rather than a rigid company imposed procedure, it is a way they look at life. So this reflects in the attitude of the people towards their job and colleagues and customers.
The global leader in the automobile industry, Toyota takes going the extra mile very seriously. For them excellence is not a destination, it is a process. Going the extra mile for Toyota means continuous improvement. It is ensuring that their products meet the highest expectations of the market and even exceed it.
The Toyota Production System strive for the absolute elimination of waste, overburden and imbalance in all areas to ensure smooth and efficient operations. Going the extra mile for them means providing customers with the highest quality vehicles, at lowest possible cost, in a timely manner with the shortest possible lead times. This the philosophy which enabled them to overtake giants like General Motors and Ford to become the ninth-largest company in the world by revenue and the world’s second-largest automotive manufacturer behind German Volkswagen Group as at 2016.
The truth is any company can become excellent which by the way will necessarily precede market loyalty. Ever since Tom Peters introduced the word excellence into the business world, companies have been madly in search of how to become excellent.
But in the end, it turns out the quest for excellence is a little like making a new year resolution, it doesn’t work just because you want it to, an organisation becomes excellent when the leaders make the right moves and show true commitment to excellence.
According to research by IBM and others, between 60 and 90 percent of organizational change initiatives fall flat. Why is that? Because making the changes that lead to excellence is not an overnight pursuit–it’s a long process that often means rewiring a company’s value system. Making a one and final decision to be excellent first because that’s how you think life should be, not necessarily to get loyalty. The bye-product of this is the market and employee loyalty others so desperately fight for.
I took a close look at Toyota, Amazon, Google and Facebook and at the most current research and thinking on corporate excellence. What I understand is that you can’t have an overnight success in creating an excellent organisation but I can assure you one thing: it is possible. You can have an excellent organisation anywhere no matter your business circumstances.
To begin with, you will need to have a new value orientation about financial profit in business and how to get it. No organization which puts money first before people can be excellent. In Fundamentals of Prosperity by Roger Babson, he ended his book by asking the President of the Argentine Republic why South America, with all of its natural resources and wonders, was so far behind North America in terms of progress and development. The President replied: “I have come to this conclusion. South America was settled by the Spanish who came to South America in search of gold, but North America was settled by the Pilgrim Fathers who went there in search of God.”
It is your respect and value for the market, your recognition that it is a previledge to be in business that will move you as a business leader to become extra mile minded and inspire your people to do the same.
When you think that human beings deserve first class treatment everywhere, when you think that all men has the right to be served right everywhere in the world, when your value for human beings supersedes your value for financial profit irrespective of how poor and ignorant they may be, then you will want to review how you serve them. If you think people are important, you will want to serve them excellently.
In his January, 1941 address, Eleanor D. Roosevelt presented the world with four fundamental freedom every man should enjoy. He described the third as ‘the freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.’
When you desire and pursue to have have an organization which frees people from want-everywhere in the world, you will have flawless products and services, and help your people become same minded. Then nothing will challenge your organisational excellence – and profitability.