Creating an environment for success
Quality gurus have all emphasized the importance of creating the right environment for success. Dr. W. Edward Deming's book Out of the Crisis is especially enlightening. His theory of management addresses the need to establish constancy of purpose to improve products and service with a plan to be competitive, create growth, and provide jobs.
Quality gurus have all emphasized the importance of creating the right environment for success. Dr. W. Edward Deming's book Out of the Crisis is especially enlightening. His theory of management addresses the need to establish constancy of purpose to improve products and service with a plan to be competitive, create growth, and provide jobs. In addition, Philip B. Crosby, in his book, Completeness: Quality for the 21 st Century, discusses customer success and completeness in achieving a high quality result.
Two triangles can help set the stage for building a quality environment. The first defines stakeholders. The success of a company's stakeholders is the defining role of a modern corporation.
Four key stakeholders are customers, employees, shareholders, and suppliers. Customer success is achieved through products and services that have long-term value. Rewarding careers define employee success. Growth and profits define shareholder success, while win-win relationships define supplier and partner success. Clearly understanding stakeholders and their goals for success allows creation of a framework for leadership and an environment for success.
The second triangle establishes the role vision plays in establishing how to accomplish goals.
Leadership with a clear vision sets the framework for success. Vision defines what products or services to offer. Leaders should communicate this vision internally to team members and externally to customers. The customers then know what products and services to expect and employees know what products and services to provide. Customers can provide feedback to the vision. Employees are empowered by the vision. Through this, the company sets a common set of core values and long-term goals.
Vision helps stimulate a high level of innovation by defining a higher purpose for the organization. Vision also helps create an environment for continuous improvement of products and services based on feedback from customers.
Visionary companies balance the needs of stakeholders and create an environment for success. Such visionary companies satisfy the needs of society while creating success for stakeholders in the manner of the book Built to Last by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras.
In the quest to make a company that is 'built to last', a timeline can serve as a roadmap for making the right decisions during the proper timeframes.
Good leadership demands that these timelines for decision processes be well understood. Long-term decisions should be consistent with the organization's core values. Short-term focus cannot override the long-term view if the organization is to be believed and trusted. Core values must be a tradition that is understood and depended on by all-just as Dr. Deming said an organization must have a constancy of purpose.
The vision of the organization changes slowly as it grows and adapts to a changing environment. Changes in the vision need to meet the pace of the organization. A 10-year timeline is a good compromise. This gives time for the organization to adapt to the new environment. In moving to more specific products and target markets, timelines shorten again to perhaps five years. For specific tasks, a year timeline is more appropriate. These timelines help keep priorities straight and support the building of a strong corporate culture.
The stronger the basic building blocks of the culture and environment, the better the organization can withstand rapid changes in the external environment and the more satisfaction employees will have in their jobs. These are the foundation for success.
Dr. James Truchard, ceo and co-founder, National Instruments, Austin, Tex., was recently named by Worth magazine as one of the nation's 50 best ceos for the second straight year.
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