I'm due to write some book reviews for this blog. I just finished one by Bill Hybels book some memorable quotes, including one about excellence that fits well into my worldview of the last month.
"Excellence is God-honoring and people-inspiring." He uses Romans 12:8 to support his view that leaders should lead with "diligence," and demand more quality control of themselves personally and their organization than what anyone externally would ask for.
Reading this quote came on the heels of my speaking with the chief investment officer of a decent-sized equity fund looking to invest in international growth companies of a social nature. The first condition for investment was "excellence." When you hear the word "excellent" to describe an organization, what comes to mind? Above-board accounting practices? Well above-average growth and return on investment? Characteristics of the "Great" companies of Jim Collins' Good to Great (my review)?
To me, one non-negotiable of an "excellent" organization is a steadfast commitment to continuous improvement. Hybels also hits on this in the book. You can't improve things if you don't know what needs to be improved. You can't tell that unless you have concrete measures of performance that everyone knows. You must also have a grasp of the data. You need input from all aspects of the organization, meaning a system for people to report issues and ideas to management, and mechanisms for which management can act on the input. Rinse and repeat.
In your personal life, or in your department, business, etc. are you continuously improving? Are you striving for excellence or looking to reach a plateau that will be "just enough." The difference between the two is "excellence."