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Posted on Jun 29, 2018

10 Best Definitions of Excellence in Business

10 Best Definitions of Excellence in Business

As a follow on to my last post, this one is about Excellence, the third most common value (after Integrity and Respect) expected in every business today.

Based on my extensive research of values across Fortune 500 companies (using 2013 data), Quality is the most popular term associated with the value of Excellence, followed by Performance. While different companies may choose a different label, the core meaning tends to be the same.

Here are the 10 best definitions of Excellence (Quality, Performance):

  1. What we do, we do well. This is how Coca-Cola defines the value of Quality. Not surprisingly, Coca-Cola provides succinct definitions of all its values (note: the page with Coke’s values was not working at the time of writing this post).
  2. Being Your Best. Gilead Sciences is also succinct with its definitions. They expanded the number of their values from four to five since I first looked at them four years ago.
  3. We deliver. If you like short definitions, Stryker is the one to beat. This value is listed under the label of Performance, but it makes me wonder if it’s too short as I feel it leaves room for ambiguity.
  4. We are quality people, building and selling quality products. CarMax uses the label of Quality for this value. Surprisingly, it appears they have removed the definitions of all ten values on their website.
  5. We strive to improve all of our business processes continuously. This was the definition that CF Industries listed in 2013, under the label Operational Excellence. Since then, they have changed their seven values to four different values. It appears they have folded the value of Excellence into “We do it well” which is also a solid definition for this value.
  6. We remain constructively dissatisfied in our pursuit of excellence. United Parcel Service (UPS) provides one of my favorite definitions, under the label Quality and Efficiency. The combination of aspiration with practical action has punch.
  7. Provide timely, professional, effective and efficient service to all customers. This is the definition that Universal Health Services used in 2014 under the label Service Excellence. Today the firm has replaced their seven principles with three different values.
  8. We set our standards high so that we can exceed expectations and strive for perfection in everything we do. This is how Group 1 Automotive defines this value, under the label of Professionalism. To me, perfectionism can be a dangerous path as it feels good at first, but can then demotivate others as it’s something never achieved.
  9. We strive to be the best in all that we do and to perform at world-class levels. Since 2013, AES has simplified the labels of their values, and expanded on their definitions. For the value of Excellence, AES has added the following, “Excellence is both a goal in itself and the way to achieve that goal. Striving for excellence means continually working to improve ourselves and our business operations.”
  10. Quality through consistent and reliable service, advice, and products across every touchpoint and channel. This is the definition Walgreens listed in 2013 under the label of Quality. But today they have replaced their original four values (no longer listed on their website) with five different values, as outlined in their 2017 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

If you feel the need to embrace Excellence as a core value for your business, use one or more of these definitions. This is public data. No need to reinvent the wheel, spending thousands of dollars for an off-site meeting to come up with something close to one of these definitions.

Instead, invest your precious resources in discovering your differentiating values!