Very few people have the ability to capture their thoughts into a few words – words that leave a lasting impact, words that continue to inspire over decades or centuries and words that speak to you and give you your personal “eureka” moments.  Think about it, Aristotle lived between 384 BC and 322 BC – more than 2300 years ago and what he said then continues to influence us now. Among his many pieces of wisdom passed down through the ages, and before modern management or its terms were invented, he defined business operations and operational excellence –

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

So my post today combines two of my passions – operational excellence and quotes that inspire me in this area. I have chosen my five favourite Quotes on Operational Excellence that to me most accurately reflect the principles of successful Business Operations –

Quotes on Operational Excellence #1: Build a Cathedral –

Organizations should be……. no less than Cathedrals in which the full and awesome power of the Imagination and Spirit and native Entrepreneurial flair of diverse individuals is unleashed in passionate pursuit of … Excellence. Our job as leaders—the alpha and the omega and everything in between—is abetting the sustained growth and success and engagement and enthusiasm and commitment to Excellence of those, one at a time, who directly or indirectly serve the ultimate customer.

7 Steps to Sustaining Success:   You take care of the people. The people take care of the service. The service takes care of the customer. The customer takes care of the profit. The profit takes care of the re-investment. The re-investment takes care of the re-invention. The re-invention takes care of the future. (And at every step the only measure is EXCELLENCE.)” ~ Tom Peters

Quotes on Operational Excellence #2: Get Everyone on the Same Page –

“The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the financial outcome, good or bad …. A business should be run like an aquarium, where everybody can see what’s going on — what’s going in, what’s moving around, what’s coming out. That’s the only way to make sure people understand what you’re doing, and why, and have some input into deciding where you are going. Then, when the unexpected happens, they know how to react and react quickly.” ~ Jack Stack, “The Great Game of Business

Quotes on Operational Excellence #3: Follow the Right Order of Operation

 “Values should underpin Vision, which dictates Mission, which determines Strategy, which surfaces Goals that frame Objectives, which in turn drives the Tactics that tell an organization what ResourcesInfrastructure and Processes are needed to support a certainty of execution….

While successful leaders address all four areas, the best leaders always start with why followed very closely by who. Then, and only then, do they work on the design of what and how.” ~Mike Myatt

Quotes on Operational Excellence #4: Process First, Technology and Tools Second –

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” ~ Bill Gates

Quotes on Operational Excellence #5: Discipline Matters – Close the gaps in Execution by Following Through

“Follow-through is the cornerstone of execution, and every leader who’s good at executing follows through religiously.  Following through ensures that people are doing the things they committed to do, according to the agreed timetable.  It exposes any lack of discipline and connection between ideas and actions, and forces the specificity that is essential to synchronize the moving parts of an organization.  If people can’t execute the plan because of changed circumstances, follow-through ensures they deal swiftly and creatively with the new conditions…” ~Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan – “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done”.

These quotes reveal the corner-stones of operational excellence – people, processes, technology and continuous improvement. There are many more quotes that inspire and I have left out some that I have already quoted in my past posts.  I would love to get your favourite quotes on Business operations and Operational Excellence here – maybe do a part 2 of this post. So, if you enjoyed this collection, spare a moment and leave a comment.


    • Five Principles of Operational Excellence through Five Favourite Quotes – Business Operations Performance Management | Kenneth Carnesi
    • September 08, 2013

    […] Five Principles of Operational Excellence through Five Favourite Quotes – Business Operations Perf…. […]

    • Tapanesh Sahu
    • September 10, 2013

    My all time favorite has been “Connect the DOTS” 🙂 .. courtesy “you know who” 🙂


    • Five Principles of Operational Excellence throu...
    • September 11, 2013

    […] Very few people have the ability to capture their thoughts into a few words – words that leave a lasting impact, words that continue to inspire over decades or centuries and words that speak to you…  […]

    • Kavita Verma
    • September 13, 2013

    Thanks Suchitra, for sharing these wonderful quotes with us. Quote #4 made me smile when I could directly relate this with the present work flow around my tasks 🙂

    • Suchitra Mishra
    • September 14, 2013

    Hi Kavita,

    I have missed your comments and a post from you is now long due :).

    All the quotes in this post are assertions of my day-to-day experiences. So, I am not surprised that you could relate to quote #4 so well ! It is right on the mark, don’t you think ?


    • Suchitra Mishra
    • September 14, 2013

    Thanks for dropping by, Tapanesh. Yup, connect the dots is one of my mantras. Wish I could copyright that phrase 🙂
    Here is what Steve Jobs said in his famous commencement speech at Stanford (must watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=787FjaJ9kXs ):
    “You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards.
    So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
    You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
    Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.”

    Thanks for dropping by,

    • Amanda Drew
    • December 02, 2017

    That sounds like a good idea to focus on the why and the who first then look at the what and how. That seems like a good way to manage your business. It’d be a good idea to find a way to make sure that you’re accountable for your management. So a business could benefit from a business operations management service.

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