Question: How can standards enable human excellence?
Answer: There are two ways that standards can be used to enable human excellence. First, standards describe excellence or what “good” looks like. When leaders describe excellence in clear and unequivocal terms they are telling their people what they expect from them. It is almost as if people now know – “So this is what you want, okay I will give it to you.” People want to do what is expected of them when they have a good relationship with their manager. They don’t want to let their manager down because their manager is not letting them down. The manager is in the relationship to give to his/her people and the natural human response to being given to you is to want to give back. Second, when people expect excellence, then excellence is what they get. When leaders expect the very best from their people, more often than not the best is what they get. When the standard is set high, people live up to it. Conversely, when the standard is set low, people live down to the lower standard. In a software development company, the quality of software being produced improved by a quantum amount simply by managers asking the following question when a piece of software was delivered to them: “Is this excellent? Is this the best that you can be?”