Tag Archives: six sigma

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excellence cost

What Does Excellence Cost?

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Many individuals and businesses strive for excellence. It is an admirable goal. Does excellence have a price? What does excellence cost?

It seems that there may be many potential ways to measure the cost of excellence. We can consider hours spent, hard costs such as tools or equipment, and perhaps the opportunity cost of trading one thing for another.

Popular Pursuits

Businesses may strive to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and have fewer than one defective part in every million produced. All good and meaningful goals.

What is the cost? Often argued is that costs are improved. Less waste, faster, and better-quality results in more profit. We can do the math on those costs to get to the end result. Are there other costs?

History Teaches

Perhaps post-industrial revolution we have some remnants of excellence. Things like John Deere tractors, Ford automobiles, and Harley Davidson motorcycles.

These are all companies that pushed hard for excellence. Perhaps long before manufacturing developed catchy terms and acronyms for process control. Even well before Toyota existed.

So, what about John Deere, Ford, and Harley Davidson? What price did they pay for excellence? Many have studied the Ford story, some have looked closer at John Deere and Harley Davidson. What are the lessons learned?

Are the lessons tighter controls, stricter specifications, and appropriate treatment of the human side of the business? Certainly, yes. Are there other lessons?

Excellence Cost

In your career or in your business have you thought about the costs of excellence? Not the tangible costs, but the intangibles?

Much of the best innovation, product development, and future growth doesn’t spring up from tight systems and restricted movement. It doesn’t happen when the mindset is to attain perfection and never change.

Preaching continuous improvement is a paradox when the real rules are no deviations.

Even the best sometimes struggle to get out of their own way.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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Innovation and the Generations

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Who are the best innovators? Does a generational trend exist that makes one workplace generation more innovative when compared to another? The fast argument may be that traditionals and baby boomers are stuck in their ways and in an opposing view the millennials or generation 9/11 people are more likely to innovate.

Team leader giving a presentation

Like most complex subjects, there can be arguments from many different sides. Here are three simple ideas to help break this down:

Willingness to Change. Innovation requires change. The truth about change is that it makes everyone feel a bit uneasy, nervous, and afraid. Propensity for change is typically not a generational issue, it has a whole lot more to do with what a person feels they have to gain or lose, regardless of generational representation.

Restrictive Knowledge. Effective problem solving usually involves approaching problems within a framework. Often we frame situations and problems based on our knowledge. This very act of framing often limits innovation. Many experts would agree the best innovation happens when you let go of knowledge that restricts vision and as some would say, dream big.

Creativity Culture. We often hear about cultures being built through mainstream quality and efficiency ideologies like Six Sigma, LEAN, and Kaizen. These high quality principles (which are effective for their designated purpose) often drive people to reach a standard and once the standard is achieved to never change, never deviate, and to just repeat the process. People who are conditioned to think within these high quality standards may develop a restrictive view of innovation. A creativity culture requires unleashing restrictive thinking.

Keep in mind that in a world of constant change, the riskiest place to be is stuck in the status quo. Innovation, like change, knowledge, and culture are not limited to any specific generation. Innovation occurs when individuals and teams are willing to let go of limitations, step out of their comfort zone, and support each other to explore new or alternative possibilities. 


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker, and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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