Friday, February 11, 2011

'The Best'

For the past few years the vision of the department I manage is to be the best Canadian university information systems department. Simple, clear, and ambitious. It is a vision that sets the bar high.

When we first published this vision, feedback was positive. But we consistently heard one concern: how do you measure 'the best'. There are some basic metrics we use. Examples include external rankings for specific areas of our business, awards from appropriate groups, and benchmarks against similar organizations.

These metrics are useful in charting progress, however none of them will ever conclusively indicate our ranking in our business. Individually and collectively, none of them will ever prove we are 'the best'. And I'm quite happy with that.

If we ever officially became the 'the best', then bad behaviors would begin to creep into our culture. We would become complacent, over confident, and we would lose our desire to continuously improve.  The goal of a lofty vision is that it is always just slightly out of reach. A goal just beyond your fingertips is an eternal incentive. In our case it is an incentive to continuously get better all the time.

I don't really want to be 'the best', but I do want to always be trying to be 'the best'.


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