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Please visit my blog and share your comments: Questions: What is Excellence? What are its Components?

And most importantly, How to achieve it? We had a very intriguing discussion regarding these in the class this Thursday. And we went on to learn a few very important concepts about excellence, and as a matter of fact, about the purpose and working principles of organizations. Specimens: Before trying to define excellence, lets first look at a few probable specimens. Is the Tajmahal an excellence? What about Apple iPhone? And UID Adhaar? Well to talk about Tajmahal, it cannot be regarded as an excellence. The reason being, it is not replicable. What use does a statue in the middle of nowhere serve if it cannot be used by the crores of people around? We want lakhs and crores of Tajmahals. Apple iPhone, yes it is. It has gone places, reached crores of people beyond boundaries. Probably, it is still a bit expensive to reach many more out of its present purview. Still, the bottomline remains, it is useful and replicable numerous times. About UID Adhaar, we are not sure yet. However, it definitely shows the potential to be an excellence, provided the issues related to it are addressed properly.

So what conclusions can we draw from the above examples? 1. Excellence must be replicable and of use to the greater part of the society. 2. It cannot be achieved by individuals. 3. Organizations can be used to achieve excellence. In fact, organizations are actually meant for that. They are tools for excellence. Now, an argument might lie in the second point. That whether one can achieve excellence individually. Well, the first point is, even if one can achieve it, why would he/she? The next point is: the capacity of a group is always greater than that of an individual. Of course, if the group is not managed properly, it might produce results even worse than certain individuals. However, that should in no way encourage us to believe that individuals are more likely to achieve excellence than groups/organizations. Hence, it remains one of the primary concerns of a manager to manage the group/organization properly to achieve this excellence. Well be performing an experiment to analyze this even further. Crossing the valley:

It is called 'Crossing the Valley' exercise. Three of us will have to cross the valley as shown in the above picture. Definitely the above cannot be achieved by an individual. The challenge for the group of three is to execute the plan and walk as if they were simply walking on a plain surface. I'll elaborate more on this once we perform this experiment.

Components of Excellence: Now let us try to have a look at the components of excellence. We learned Excellence = Efficiency X Effectiveness Now how to elaborate it. Well, in simple words, Efficiency deals with whether the given work is executed properly, whereas Effectiveness deals with whether the work given was rightly estimated. Efficiency can be attributed to engineers, whereas Effectiveness remains a managerial concern. (Without any bias, any person who is able to imbibe the two features is both an engineer and a manager.) We performed an exercise to understand this concept. It's called the Tower Building Exercise.

Tower Building Exercise: One of our friends won he bid to form the designated tower. He had to build a tower of small cubes (approx. 2x2x2 cube-cm each). Asked how many cubes can be put on the tower without getting it to fall down, the average estimate of the class was below 15. Very importantly, the performer himself estimated a count of only 10. At the end, he could build a tower of 18 cubes.

Obviously, efficiency was above estimate. However, the question to bother is: if one can build a tower of 18, why would one estimate only 10? This is where the question of effectiveness lies as well as does the role of a manager. We were then asked to give an estimate in case the same experiment is performed by the person blindfolded, with another one or two giving him directions. The estimate was reasonably lower than the previous one - by almost everyone in the class. Now, here lies the real essence of management. A manager is a person who can think, and think effectively, most importantly, beyond a normal person's limit. If an individual can build 18 cube towers, why won't a group of 3 be able to build one with more? And this is thriving for excellence. To add value to this discussion, I would like to add that the same experiment was carried out in another class, wherein the group outperformed the estimates of the class and built a 17 cube tower, blindfolded. Learnings: So what I learnt is that excellence is achieved by the combination of efficiency and effectiveness, wherein the latter serves an even greater purpose in achieving the same. As managers, we must be able to develop this effective thinking. On that note, I'll conclude this post. Happy learning !!!