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October 26, 2021

Achieving Excellence and Beyond

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It was the first day of my online class at the Management for Business Excellence (MBE) programme — curious, excited, and a little bit anxious since this will be my first time attending a formal education class since 2 years ago. Not to mention the fact that this is my first time receiving a formal education abroad, I cannot help myself to not question myself. In order to overcome this feeling and set of thoughts, I prepared myself for the class by reading and watching the recommended content in hope that this effort may reduce my anxiety. Another thing that I had to prepare is my emotional intelligence. Like any other beginnings, setting an expectation is crucial to know where we are heading and how to not get disappointed. I want to learn the most of Business Excellence. There goes my expectation, nothing more, nothing less. With a set of mind and heart, I started my first day of class.

Two weeks have gone by, and it is already the end of the module. People say that time flies really fast when you are having fun, and I believe that this is one of those times. Below are the learning points that I want to share:

1. Excellence models and what lies behind them

I learned not only one, but various excellence models, from the EFQM, Deming, Malcolm Baldrige. Not only that I learned about the differences between those three, I also learned that none of these models exceeds the other. What matters the most is which one is the most suitable for the target (organisation/process/product) and of course, how committed the target is to reach excellence. However, the implementation of these three models should also be supported with the knowledge and ability of continuous learning (learning organisation), how to use data (measurement of results), and being a knowledgeable and good-hearted leader (profound knowledge).

2. There is a more appropriate way to see and judge something, which is the SPC

In a world that always divides something into two categories — black or white; yes or no; pass or fail, sometimes it can be hard for professionals to see things broader than just two categories. SPC can help us to see things in a wider perspective as it gives a range and threshold, which I believe, will lead us into a better decision-making process in this data-driven era.

3. Collaboration is the only road for excellence

Out of all Deming’s rich and insightful theories about excellence, his saying of “performance-related bonus will always kill teamwork” is the one that intrigues me the most. I learned that there is a downside (and probably the worst) downside of competition, which is sub-optimisation. It’s something that I’ve never learnt before. But after the module, I know that this that eventually will lead the organisation further from achieving excellence.

Other than those three academic points that I have learned, there are also few insights that I have gained through the module, as follows:

1. Meetings are more than discussing something

Time is a very valuable resource. Spending them wisely does not only mean that we must utilise what we have, but to go beyond that. We must optimise every resource that we have, to make it something more valuable. If it does not result into a more valuable result, then maybe there should not be a meeting at all, or we should revamp the way we do meetings. Prepare-set objective-participate-wrap upmight be the most straightforward steps to do effective and efficient meetings.

2. I have been judging things too fast and too easily

Growing in a yes or no environment have made me into a person that I am now, who judges something too fast, too early, and too shallow. After comparing each excellence models in class, I learned thatit is not the model that is bad, but how it was implemented that makes it bad. I instantly think of the kombucha that I (regretfully) drank last weekend, maybe it is not bad, maybe it was just made in a wrong wayand maybe I should give it another chance.

3. I have always been right about mixing psychology and leadership

I have always had a strong feeling about being smart and being a good leader are two different things. Thanks to Deming’s Profound Knowledge core value of ‘knowledge of psychology’, I can bring this belief with more confidence.

4. Radical Candor is the way for you to be kind and critical at the same time

Criticism is not the same with being rude or mean. Kim Scott’s radical candorthat was introduced in class by one of WMG’s well-known principal teaching fellow, Graeme Knowlesshows me that if a positive intention is a crucial element that you have to carry, to reach that sweet spot of radical candor.

5. Want something to work? Commit!

Starting from the excellence model, your workout plan, your relationship with your loved ones — anything, needs a commitment.

Now that the module has ended, I have home-works on my end, but the important thing is to inject and practice excellence in my personal and professional life, as to quote Paul Roberts,the Course Leader of the Management for Business Excellence Postgraduate programme at the University of Warwick (and my personal tutor), “excellence is a mindset”.

June 2024

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