“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best” – W Edwards Deming
How can you and I possibly use this leadership quote?
How much time is wasted in your business by people who are doing the wrong things? Could you put a number on it? I bet it’s 20%. It might even be 30%. What a horrifying thought!
The Cost of Error
I work as a business trouble-shooter. When I investigate the true cost of quality, I have often come up with the 20% to 30% number. It’s extremely rare to find a business with lower than 20% waste, which I think we can agree is a very high number, can’t we? Of the hundreds of business leaders I have asked, very few have an accurate idea of the amount of error and rework which is going on in their business.
When we have gathered accurate data in detail, spending the time investigating the individual errors, the truly horrific nature of the cost of quality comes out.
And if one day every week across your whole business is completely wasted, that is an eye watering amount of money, isn’t it? Imagine what you could do if you had a fifth of your workforce available to work on improvements and extra projects, adding extra value every week.
Do you know why the people are making these errors? It’s not because they don’t care. It’s because they don’t know what to do. And it’s your responsibility to help them learn what to do.
Your Own Private Business
If you are not running a big business, you are still running your own “private business” – that is, you as an individual are a business. You are responsible to yourself as CEO of your own private business. If you don’t know what to do, you are personally wasting your time and resources. Doing your best is not good enough. First you must know what to do. Otherwise you are wasting your time however hard you work.
You have to learn what you must do. You must take every opportunity to find new ways of achieving what you want. Become addicted to learning. The way I learn is to read. I also listen to audio and whenever I have the chance, I listen to experts by attending speaking sessions. Then I can ask questions and learn. Find the way suits your lifestyle and your learning style.
When you start to learn those things which are relevant to helping you achieve your vision, you will know that you are making real strides towards it. You will see that your hard work, doing your best, is making a big impression on your life and your success.
Set down your vision. Decide what it is that you must be able to do in order to achieve it. This is what Dr Deming is trying to say in this inspirational leadership quote. What of the skills you will need? What is the knowledge you must have and where will you find it? Set a plan to show yourself how you will find these things out, how you will learn them and then make it your business, as CEO, to make sure that you are not only doing your best but you are doing your best by doing the right things.
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