In the past two decades, I have helped countless organizations improve their processes to find greater success. But over the years, something began to haunt me. I noticed that some organizations using the exact same process or methodology realized enormous savings, while others stumbled. I kept wondering, what is the difference?
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One of the most memorable days of my life was meeting my favorite musician, Pandit Ravi Shankar, the legendary Sitar Maestro. Nearly half a century earlier, George Harrison of The Beatles traveled to India to learn sitar from him. A friendship formed, and it reshaped aspects of The Beatles music. Likewise, Ravi’s music had a huge impact on my own life.
I recently attended an event that included bestselling authors, and wildly successful business entrepreneurs. But this one young man stole the show for me, and helped me understand what redefining success means.
It’s interesting that so many companies focus on processes without input from customers or even their own employees: ‘top-down’ processes punctuated by statistical data and quality management controls. While it’s obviously important to focus on what goes on behind the scenes, what kind of quality can you possibly deliver without feedback from the people who actually create (employees) or use your products (customers)?
To have empathy for someone means you are putting yourself in a position to feel what that person is feeling. The world could use a great deal more empathy. It’s easy to see that we could decrease disputes and disagreements by being more empathetic, and we’d quickly clear up misunderstandings and misconceptions. Taking it one step further, empathy becomes strategic as new channels of data open to us.
Several years ago, in an article entitled “In Pursuit of Excellence” for Personal Excellence magazine, Michael Jordan said that he always had the ultimate goal of being the best. “I approached everything step-by-step, using short-term goals. When I met one goal, I set another reasonable, manageable goal that I could achieve if I worked hard enough.”