This week’s fundamental, “Be Relentless About Continuous Improvement”, is a fitting one as it relates so well to last week’s “Embrace Change”. In fact, there are several words that are important to highlight.
The first is the word “relentless”. To me, this term signifies being aggressive, passionate, and proactive with your individual desire to improve and our collective commitment to work as a cohesive team in order to take Famous to a higher level.
The second word is about being “better”. In sports, champions all have an incredible focus on getting better every day. They treat practices like games. They don’t just go through the motions. They give 100% effort on a consistent basis. They learn from their mistakes, and they are open to listening to coaches or others to better hone their skills.
The third word, “faster” in this fundamental not only catches my attention, but it is a reflection of people’s wants and needs in society. Simply, the world has changed, and it will never stop. People want speed, and they are willing to pay for it. Think about going from rotary phones to touch tone to mobile phones or standard ovens to microwaves, or from full service at the pump to paying inside and now self-service at the pump, or instead of going to a theater, now sitting comfortably in your home or with your mobile device downloading movies, or going from snail mail to email or texting.
The focal point with this improvement is speed. And since people’s personal and professional lives are so intensely integrated, we must make speed (along with accuracy) a key element in how we approach our work. We need a hop in our step. We need to out hustle the competition. Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day to slow down, and we don’t have the luxury of being idle. We need to keep moving and look at the pace as fun. When all of us are consistently focusing on speed and accuracy, we are firing on all cylinders. Think of the beauty of a basketball team passing the ball crisply, with pinpoint accuracy, and with ball and player movement. This creates the best opportunities for good shots that win games and eventually championships.
Speaking of basketball and a relentless focus in the spirit of continuous improvement, one of my favorite stories is about Michael Jordan. I’m sure you are all aware of his greatness and his six championships in the NBA. However, back in college at North Carolina as a freshman, his coach was the famous Dean Smith. As the story goes, Coach Smith would often divide the team up and play five on five at the end of practice. They would play with the winning team being the first to score 11 baskets. There were times when Michael Jordan’s team would be up 10 to 0. Coach Smith (to MJ’s dismay) would stop the practice game and take Jordan and put him on the other team that was down 0 to 10. You could imagine what happened next. Often Michael Jordan’s new team would come back and win 11 to 10. His will to win was and still is legendary. He took his practices seriously and he helped his teammates (although he was very young at the time) become stronger, fiercer competitors that could not and would not accept losing. It wasn’t just talent that got him and his teams to the highest levels of competition. It was his relentless pursuit of becoming better every day. We can all learn a lot from his example, as this sports analogy is transferrable to any business as well.
Some amazing associates who come to mind that are absolutely relentless about continuous improvement, and always try to get better, and care about speed, as well as accuracy are Christine Longville, Dave King, Andrew Grover, Ken McGregor, Steve Winovich, Joe Bolinger, Lisa Terman, Joe Puchajda, Jamie Billy, Emily Bowers, Scott Sengewalt, Brad Peters, Grant Wiggins, Randy Mason, Brian Morse, Bob Renicker, and Ed Yakubik. I’m very proud of the pace and example these individuals set for both our internal and external customers. In addition, our entire Toledo branch is a high energy team that hustles, gets the job done quickly, and is focused on getting it right.
The best companies don’t just talk about getting better. They do it. It’s in their DNA. That’s just how their people are hardwired. I am appreciative of the fact that this is the essence of Famous, and I’m extremely confident we will continue to be relentless in the pursuit of our fifth core value, continuous improvement. Thanks again for all that you do.