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Raise your standards day by day

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Ted Blackwater | Monday September 14, 2015 4:45AM ET
Setting standards
Setting standards   The age of annual strategy meetings is gone

There's no doubt that every good company has some standards in place. From production to marketing to strategy, without standards there's no improvement. But how to use those standards to transition from good to great?

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Without standards our life would be miserable because everything would be a total mess. That stands true for any company: a bunch of people doing something without strong guidance is just that - a bunch of people. However, you, as a CEO, want to lead the company, not a group of people and you set rules that govern your everyday business.

So far, so good. But, in one point in time you say to yourself "OK, we are good, our products are good, but we are not spectacular. We are good but I want us to be great. Where's the catch..."

Well, the catch is in the way your conduct your business or, to be more precise it's about your standards. And we are talking here about standards across the company: from the production floor to marketing to top management. You have it, we have no doubt in that, but our question is: How often are you changing them?

Every good book or a business mentor will tell you that you can't run today's company based on principles hundred years old and that's obviously true. Times are changing, technology is marching, your competition is running, so standards updates are necessary. However, we recommend something that may look like a radical approach: raise your standards daily.

Of course, this is in a sense a matter of speech but the point is to ask yourself every day what can be improved and take to a higher level. Can you raise your standards in production to get more products with less efforts? Can you find new supply chain to get better materials at a cheaper price? Can you raise your standards and give your employees better and safer working environment?

The point is, to do that once a year or every few months when the board and all other top faces gather together to think about future is not enough. That's simply a bad habit. The competition is moving fast and new players are attacking your customer almost daily so it is wise to ask yourself what can you do better - every day. The age of annual meetings and strategy on the long run is gone, today everybody must move fast.

So, try to find one thing, one small detail you can improve every day. Maybe you'll have one idea a week, maybe ten ideas at the same time, that's not important: what is important is think constantly what can be better and know that every step, no matter how small it may be, is bringing you closer to great, closer to the top.


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