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85 Quotes – Operational Excellence and Continuous Improvement

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Sometimes a few wise words can change your perspective and help you get on the right track. Here is a collection of such wise words from individuals from Taiichi Ohno to Edward Demming to Jeff Bezos to Peter Drucker. Hopefully you will find inspiration in the words of these visionaries, professionals, academics, and authors.

“Costs do not exist to be calculated. Costs exist to be reduced.” ~Taiichi Ohno

“Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” ~Vince Lombardi

“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” ~Steve Jobs

“Improvement usually means doing something that we have never done before.” ~Shigeo Shingo

“The thing is, continuity of strategic direction and continuous improvement in how you do things are absolutely consistent with each other. In fact, they’re mutually reinforcing.” ~Michael Porter

“Learning is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. Improvement is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. But to survive, we must learn.” ~W. Edwards Deming

“Everything can be improved.” ~Clarence W. Barron

“The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete.” ~Mark Zuckerberg

“Watch the little things; a small leak will sink a great ship.” ~Benjamin Franklin

“All we are doing is looking at the time line, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing the time line by reducing the non-value adding wastes.” ~Taiichi Ohno, father of the Toyota Production System.  If you are interested in lean this is one of the top people to research.

“To succeed in this world, you have to change all the time. ” ~Sam Walton, founder of Walmart.

“It is impossible to improve any process until it is standardized. If the process is shifting from here to there, then any improvement will just be one more variation that is occasionally used and mostly ignored. One must standardize, and thus stabilize the process, before continuous improvement can be made.”  ~ Masaaki Imai

“The thing is, continuity of strategic direction and continuous improvement in how you do things are absolutely consistent with each other. In fact, they’re mutually reinforcing.” ~Michael Porter

“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.”
W. Edwards Deming

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” ~Dale Carnegie

“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.” ~Shigeo Shingo

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”  ~Steve Jobs

“The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you.” ~Indra Nooyi

“If a company isn’t continuously improving then it is slowly dying.” ~Dave Waters

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” ~Peter F. Drucker

“Something is wrong if workers do not look around each day, find things that are tedious or boring, and then rewrite the procedures. Even last month’s manual should be out of date.” ~Taiichi Ohno

“Even perfection has room for improvement.” ~Ty Warner

“An extraordinary life is all about daily, continuous improvements in the areas that matter most.” ~Robin Sharma

“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.” ~Elon Musk

“The worker is not the problem. The problem is at the top! Management!”
W. Edwards Deming

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” ~Bruce Lee

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~Albert Einstein

“Continuous improvement is not about the things you do well — that’s work. Continuous improvement is about removing the things that get in the way of your work. The headaches, the things that slow you down, that’s what continuous improvement is all about.” ~Bruce Hamilton

“Persistence, perseverance, and continuous improvement are the ingredients for forming a successful person.” ~Debasish Mridha

“A bad system will beat a good person every time.” ~W. Edwards Deming

“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” ~Warren Buffett

“The Toyota style is not to create results by working hard. It is a system that says there is no limit to people’s creativity. People don’t go to Toyota to ‘work’ they go there to ‘think’.” ~Taiichi Ohno

“If you think of standardization as the best that you know today, but which is to be improved tomorrow; you get somewhere.” ~Henry Ford

“The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.” ~Warren Buffett

“Standards should not be forced down from above but rather set by the production workers themselves.” ~Taiichi Ohno

“Some people try to make everything complicated, be the person who tries to make everything simple.” ~Dave Waters

“Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.” ~Brian Tracy

“In a true zero-defects approach, there are no unimportant items.” ~Phil Crosby

“The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’” ~Jeff Bezos

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.“ ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Learn continually – There is always one more thing to learn.” ~Steve Jobs

“If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.” ~Albert Einstein

“All we are doing is looking at the timeline from the moment a customer gives us an order to the point we collect the cash. And we are reducing that timeline in the value stream by removing non value-added wastes.” ~Taiichi Ohno

“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

“When you are out observing on the gemba, do something to help them. If you do, people will come to expect that you can help them and will look forward to seeing you again on the gemba.”  ~Taiichi Ohno

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

“Without a Standard, there is no logical basis for decision making or taking action.” ~Joseph M. Juran

“Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing, layout, processes, and procedures.” ~Tom Peters

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” ~William Pollard

“Quality is free. It’s not a gift, but it’s free. The ‘unquality’ things are what cost money.”  ~ Phil Crosby

“What get measured, gets managed.” ~Peter Drucker

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”  ~Henry Ford

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” ~Elon Musk

“Where there is no Standard there can be no Kaizen” ~Taiichi Ohno

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” ~W. Edwards Deming

“Good is the enemy of great. That’s why so few things become great.”
James C. Collins

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” ~Max DePree

“I’m always trying to get better. There’s always room for improvement.”
Cain Velasquez

“You can make a positive out of the most negative if you work at it hard enough.”
Sam Walton

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”~W. Edwards Deming

“In Japan, a company worker’s position is secure. He is retrained for another job if his present job is eliminated by productivity improvement.” ~W. Edwards Deming

“You shouldn’t do things differently just because they’re different. They need to be… better.” ~Elon Musk

“Many people think that Lean is about cutting heads, reducing the work force or cutting inventory. Lean is really a growth strategy. It is about gaining market share and being prepared to enter in or create new markets.” ~Ernie Smith

“If you don’t ask the right questions, you don’t get the right answers. A question asked the right way often point to its own answer. Asking questions is the ABC of diagnosis.”  ~Edward Hodnett

“For much of Toyota’s history, we have ensured the quality and reliability of our vehicles by placing a device called an andon cord on every production line – and empowering any team member to halt production if there’s an assembly problem. Only when the problem is resolved does the line begin to move again.”
Akio Toyoda, CEO Toyota Motor Company

“Take the best out of everything and adapt it to your needs.” ~Sam Walton, founder of Walmart

“The journey is never-ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.” ~Antonio Brown

”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

“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.” ~Tom Peters

“Great job. Now make it even better.” ~Dave Waters

“A corporation is a living organism; it has to continue to shed its skin. Methods have to change. Focus has to change. Values have to change. The sum total of those changes is transformation.” ~Andrew Grove

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” ~Charles Darwin

“Many good American companies have respect for individuals and practice Kaizen and other TPS (Toyota Production System) tools. But what is important is having all of the elements together as a system. It must be practiced every day in a very consistent manner–not in spurts–in a concrete way on the shop floor.” ~Fujio Cho, President, Toyota Motor Corporation

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” ~Peter Drucker

“Improvement begins with I.” ~Arnold H. Glasow

“Pareto’s Principle: you generally spend 80% of your time on 20% of the project.” ~Joseph M. Juran

“The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.” ~Henry Ford

“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.” ~Kim Collins

“If we deliver on time, but the product has defects, we have not delivered on time.” ~Phil Crosby

“Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the systems and process rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.” ~W. Edwards Deming

“If you can make time to fix problems you can make time to plan so problems don’t occur.” ~Dave Waters

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” ~Mark Twain

“If your customer base is aging with you, then eventually you are going to become obsolete or irrelevant. You need to be constantly figuring out who are your new customers and what are you doing to stay forever young.” ~Jeff Bezos

Source: Supply Chain Today – Continuous Improvement Quotes

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