Culture of Excellence

When I started working in the IT consulting section, the words leadership and inspiration were not in the daily vocabulary of my company. What was there, however, was a “get things done” like mentality, coupled with the “within budget” and the “on time” clauses! No questions asked, of course!

I felt that something was missing in this equation – as if a hidden factor hadn’t manifested itself in the operations of the projects I was involved in.

What Was Wrong?

This “mode” of work was something that lasted for some time,  and unfortunately left certain things behind that was harmful both to the people involved in the process and for the operations and resources used:

  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of purpose & direction
  • Lack of passion
  • The absence of the required training
  • No clear definition of roles and accountability
  • Alienation from your work’s output
  • False personal progress indicators
  • Lack of personal significance and contribution, and
  • “Crazy” metrics and summaries of each person’s achievements

The way we were working was efficient, but, unfortunately, it was not effective! Not for the people, nor for the company in the long run!

It was as if a large part of work which have never been addressed properly, had to be “managed” eventually!

The Absence of a Culture

There was a clear lack of a culture which would be able to empower the people and aligned the resources and the procedures to the business and personal objectives of all parties involved!

The top technological based workplace of that time and the existing “high tech” infrastructure was not a match for the lack of direction and of the passion for the objects of the work to be done!

Only a widespread culture could, and can, guarantee something like that. Especially a culture of excellence!

What Is a Culture of Excellence?

A culture is an entity larger than a set of rules and procedures or simple ways of doing things in a certain way versus another way! Culture, in general, is:

“that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (Wikipedia: Culture)

A culture of excellence is something much bigger and deeper at the same time, attempting to provide a coherent and unified view of the world and of the business under the scope of enabling people to better their life and maximize their potential!

It is something that differentiates a given framework of “thinking and doing” against everything else and something provides a deeper sense of value to the followers of this culture as a widespread sense of its correctness against other similar propositions.

Innovation

A culture of excellence disseminating at all levels of an organization, and can define the rules for the following:

  • Value-based leadership
  • Rules of contact
  • A sense of identity
  • A coherent meaning of everyone involved
  • Results-oriented and flexible procedures
  • A fair game within and outside the company
  • Equal treatment of all employees
  • A sense of purpose and direction to all parties involved
  • Win-win strategies towards all levels of operation
  • Synergies at all levels
  • Corporate and social responsibilities
  • Personal accountability
  • Ownership of your job
  • Smooth and based on rules succession at all levels
  • Systematic grooming of new talents to prepared them for their future responsibilities
  • Personal and business growth
  • Empowerment of the personnel and training in every level of their work
  • Working in flexible and “open” teams, and
  • Innovative strategies and tactics

A culture of excellence also provides a generalized vision on the world, something that generates customs and beliefs, which leads to specific procedures and operation and prohibits other activities.

A Culture is Not a Community

The community is an entirely different concept to culture. The community can be defined in various ways!  Among other definitions, it is defined as:

“A group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society” or as “a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Community)

Culture, on the other hand, is defined in a broader scope as:

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“The beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time” or as “a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.” or as “a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary:Culture)

The Rules of the Game

A culture of excellence, as a broader version of a community of “being and do” has an advanced field of application and includes:

  • Clear boundaries and differentiation versus other similar cultures
  • Clear interactions and interdependence among its members
  • Clear defined roles, accountability, personal responsibility and hierarchies
  • Ties of bondage and a sense of belonging by the participants
  • A sense of exclusivity
  • Collective and personal responsibility for personal and group growth, learning and training
  • Preparation of the new members for their future roles
  • Self-guidance and steady navigation towards its original goals
  • Incorporation of new goals and mandates along to the development of the culture and of its members
  • Supporting and helping relationships among the members of the group
  • Common rules of entry and exit
  • Specific rules of engagement and empowerment of other members
  • Formal and informal relationships within and outside the group
  • A large network of relationships
  • Rules of conduct and behavioral patterns
  • Formal and informal relationships developed in pre-defined and, sometimes, non-defined ways
  • Clear defined relationships with other groups, cultures, communities, etc., and, above all
  • A broader scope/ interpretation of life

How to Develop a Culture of Excellence

A verified and generalized culture of excellence is a “unique value proposition” which provides more value to the outputs and products of this culture, share ever-growing value  to its members and specifies not just the boundaries of operation for an organization and its personnel but also and a generic personal and working behavioral ecosystem!

This ecosystem is directly influenced from the surrounding social and dominant culture and it is influencing the same society using various channels of communication and reference as:

  • The personal accountability and ownership of life/business/actions/value system/… of its members
  • The excellence in the behavior and/or work of the culture’s members,
  • Superior synergies
  • Networking in many levels
  • Influence of a larger audience
  • Excellent innovation tactics
  • A larger pool of new ideas and innovation schemes and
  • Meticulous preparation of the new members to fulfill their future roles.

This new paradigm of business and social culture, a “culture of excellence”, provides the basic principles, the foundations and the keys for:

  • Developing a global vision can inspire many people in and outside of a company, an organization
  • Defining a “why” for the personal and professional existence of a person or/and  an organization
  • Specifying a set of rules of contact and a framework of reference can be used and utilized by every participant in the “culture”
  • Defining a global knowledge hub, everyone can use
  • Providing resources for the accomplishment of both personal and business goals
  • Providing assistance, help and support to all levels
  • Fostering and incubating synergies with various agents and organizations, and
  • Providing learning opportunities and training for the personal and business growth

The development of a culture of excellence is not an easy thing. It depends on many parameters and based on the dynamics that are developed between its members.

A culture of excellence can be a common place for the launch of many personal and business ventures while it provides a sense of security and coherence for the person who is a member of such a culture.

How Can You Move Towards a Culture of Excellence?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Takis Athanassiou
Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business, and assets! You can check out his blog, add him in Google+ and follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/tathan"Twitter.

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