“Quality is not an act; it is a habit.” – Aristotle
Good business processes mean nothing without great people. To implement a process that consistently produces a quality product or service, you must invest in people. Develop people so that they are performing at their best; from this, excellent processes will arise.
Back to the basics
Many people lack the balance and structure in life needed to develop the fundamentals that create success. Go watch a youth team’s basketball practice – the coaches spend all of their time practicing the play, not the fundamentals. Yet if the kids cannot dribble, shoot and pass, no play will ever work. They become players who look good in practice but choke during the game.
Begin by executing the basics. Focusing on the outcome, instead of the fundamentals that create the outcome, leads to frustration and failure. In life or business, you must learn to “keep the main thing the main thing,” all the time.
Practice makes perfect
Coach John Wooden of UCLA, who won 10 NCAA Championships, is known as the greatest teacher who ever coached the game. He was so emphatic about the fundamentals that many spectators thought he did not care; unlike so many other theatrical coaches, Wooden hardly ever got off the bench during the game. It was in practice that he was fanatical about fundamentals because he knew this was when all the real work was done. During the game, players demonstrate what they have perfected in practice.
Coach Wooden understood competitive greatness was being your best when your best was needed the most, and with perfect practice came perfect performance. His work was done when practice was over; game time was for the players.
Little things make the big things happen
You will be amazed how lucky you get when you practice the fundamentals and become unconsciously great at them. As golf legend Arnold Palmer said, “When you work as hard as I do, you expect to be lucky.”
How many people stand in line to buy lotto tickets? Hundreds of millions of dollars in personal wealth is transferred to the government in the hopes of obtaining an impossible dream, and 97 percent of lotto winners actually go broke again. Why? Money must be earned in order to respect and preserve it. The answer lies in learning the fundamentals that allow people to help themselves and create sustained improvement. Provide inspiration, aspiration and opportunity about the fundamentals of money, and you will see results.
Take the simple lesson of “pay yourself first.” It is never taught in school and not practiced by many. If a person making minimum wage pays themselves 10 percent every month of what they earn over a lifetime, they will eventually become a millionaire. However, it takes discipline and work. We have created a society and raised children who believe they cannot live without a smartphone, computer and car, and who feel they deserve a social life and the freedom to buy whatever they want and go out on every Friday and Saturday night. These are not rights; they are freedoms and privileges. Success is missed by many people because it comes disguised as hard work.
Art Williams, the former high school football coach and founder of AL Williams who revolutionized life insurance, taught a tremendous fundamental: “All you can do is all you can do, but all you can do is enough.” The trick is to not buy into complacency; you must work every day to improve. Daily improvement should be a personal habit as it has an exponential impact over the course of a lifetime.
Work processes do not improve unless the processes of people improve. Remember that a process is always up for review. You must look at every process and ask the question “What if?” – “What if we could do this or that?” or “What if it went this way – how greater would the impact be?” Evaluate strengths and weaknesses, and use processes to address them; you will gain a competitive advantage.
Constant daily improvement while practicing the fundamentals equates to process orientation. The commitment to consistently practicing the fundamentals creates an environment of stability.
“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.” – Tom Peters