Want to become World-Class?

Updated: Aug 1, 2019


Many people express a desire to be world-class . Delve a bit deeper and one can discover good intentions and a lot of rhetoric. My own experience might be helpful.


What is World Class?

Means an organisation or entity that delivers products and services superior to or equal to the best in its field of activity in the world.



In 1985 the directors of purchase and quality of Bendix Corporation, a leading American company at that time, visited our manufacturing facilities. Impressed with us and our facilities, they convinced us that we had the potential to be 'World-Class'.


Having taken over the reins just 3 years earlier, for us four brothers hungry for success and greatness becoming world-class was an audacious and exciting idea. Over next several months we brothers discussed and debated how we could become 'A World-Class Organisation'.


We realised that we and our competitors had access to the same resources, and markets, vendors and technology. The key factor that would allow us to achieve and maintain delivery of world-class performance would be our people. We had to get our entire organisation involved.


3 months later at meeting of all senior staff we announced our intent to become a world-class organisation.

Guess what? Our team just looked at us blankly.

We were flabbergasted. How could they not be excited about this fantastic vision?


For an organisation struggling with so many basic challenges on a daily basis, we expected some scepticism but the response was not even lukewarm.


Many of the staff thought our 'world-class' ambition a passing fad and if adopted could only mean unnecessary handwork, disruption and numerous headaches with little or no benefits either to organisation or employees.


Someone asked, "Sir, what exactly do you mean by World-Class?"


We brothers looked at each other and now we looked more confused than our staff. We had adopted a very interesting vision given to us by someone else, and shot into action.


The dream had to mean the same thing to everyone. We realised that we had not defined what world-class meant for us, nor had we thought out how we were we going to bring everyone on board. To achieve success a simple statement of intent was completely inadequate.


Returning to our offices, we brothers and our top team spent many days over next 6 months in intense discussions and debates. We had to be more focussed not only to carry our team but who were going to deploy this idea into a reality.

As we had already discovered, 'effective deployment and execution' is key to success.


We met again with our team on this matter and after several meetings and discussions the vision moved out from the boardroom into the management space.


To succeed in any bold or challenging initiative, there are two essential preconditions.


1. Leadership commitment and focus

2. Belief of the team in the leadership and themselves as individuals and as a team.


Since leaders usually consider themselves not accountable to anyone they often indulge in fantasies and not bothering to fulfil their commitments.


Credibility of leadership and management with employees is the leading cause of failure to deploy an initiative.


Employees do not listen to what leaders say, they do what they observe leaders do. Leaders and management must 'Walk the Talk'.


It took us more than 2 years for the majority of our employees to become fully convinced.


It took a further 2 years before we began to see tangible progress and then a further 3 years before we achieved world-class performance.


We had left all our competitors far behind and became the preferred supplier to most of our customers.


Two lessons I can share with others.


Its easy to become dismayed, but we should not be. Its important to remember that, all great ideas go through three phases. First is disbelief and even ridicule. Second the nagging doubt that it just might be possible. Third is everyone takes ownership and credit for the idea.


By thinking what we believed, saying what we thought, and doing what we said, our dream became that of others too.


...... to be continued

From my seminar on 'To Be World Class'

In professional work the only way to thrive is to be at the top of one's league. This implies the sustained and demonstrated capability to provide superior quality goods and services as compared to other providers.


World Class capability can be developed and sustained. Guru Wonder conducts a two day program on 'To Be World Class' for leaders to explain and guide how.


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