Point to Ponder:
“Picture two animals: a fox and a hedgehog. Which are you? An ancient Greek parable distinguishes between foxes, which know many small things, and hedgehogs, which know one big thing.
All good-to-great leaders, it turns out, are hedgehogs. They know how to simplify a complex world into a single, organizing idea -- the kind of basic principle that unifies, organizes, and guides all decisions.
That's not to say hedgehogs are simplistic. Like great thinkers, who take complexities and boil them down into simple, yet profound, ideas (e.g. Adam Smith and the invisible hand, Darwin and evolution).
Leaders of good-to-great companies develop a hedgehog concept that is simple but that reflects penetrating insight and deep understanding.”
- From the book "Good to Great" by Jim Collins
The famous quote “The secret of success is constancy of purpose” is originally attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, a British politician from the 19th century. This term became well known when Edward Deming, the renowned management guru, presented it as the first of the fourteen management principles in his book “Out of the Crisis.”
The first time I heard this statement was in 1984 from the leader of my group, Dr. Craig Barrett, who often mentioned this quote to keep us focused on a singular objective: becoming “the world class manufacturing company”.
A lofty goal indeed, but here is one example (of countless many) illustrating what it means to "walk the talk" and role model what he preached:
In mid '80s it was a normal industry practice to include capital and people expenditure for product rework as the part of the annual plans. Craig had recognized that in order to become "the world-class manufacturing company", we needed to do things right first time.
He issued the mandate of NO REWORK for our assembly factories. The plant managers gladly accepted the challenge. However, only a few weeks after the policy change, one rather large lot of product with big revenue potential got the wrong marking. The manager of the culprit factory came up with multiple reasons, requests, apologies, begging (let me ship this time, promise it will never happen again!!). Craig stood firm with the NO REWORK directive.
This action had a tremendous impact on people's behaviors. From then on, there was tremendous focus on preventive actions. Plans were put in place to introduce the necessary and fundamental changes in company structure to create a culture consistent with the vision.
As we know, over the course of time, through this shared constancy of purpose, he succeeded in creating one of the world’s finest manufacturing companies. Not only that, but he provided a real life lesson in leadership to us all.
Amongst many valuable lessons I learned from Craig Barrett, having constancy of purpose is the most important one of it all. Every great achiever in life that I read about had a singular purpose that drove all of their activities and plans: Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Gandhi, Mandela, Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Jumong, Deng Xioping, Kitaro, Akio Morita, Kurosawa, Pele, Don Bradman, Sunil Gavaskar, Andy Grove. I'm sure you can observe and name your own.