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Thursday, Jun 27, 2002

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Seven steps to success with Premji

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IT was an interaction with a difference for industry representatives here with the Chairman of Wipro, Mr Azim Premji, a man who is known to walk the talk. The topic of discussion: Creating a Culture of Excellence.

For someone who joined Wipro in 1967 at 21, the one factor that led us to where we are today, Mr Premji said, "is our collective obsession with excellence".

"Excellence is about going a little beyond; beyond what is expected from others and beyond. What we expect from ourselves. Part of the need for excellence has been imposed on us by globalisation. Improvements in the quality of products and services whet the appetites of our customers for more improvement," he said.

"Customer delight or satisfaction has become a moving target. The benchmark for what constitutes superior quality keeps moving upward. Customers want more for less, and then, a little more for a little less. This is an absolute global truth. The other part of excellence is what we impose on ourselves. So long as the standards we set for ourselves is higher than what others expect from us, we can achieve true leadership though excellence."

Mr Premji impressed upon the audience that excellence had many rewards. Apart from the end benefits that the pursuit of excellence brings, it makes the journey itself very satisfying and personally enriching. "Excellence is not a battle with others; it is a battle you play with yourself, by constantly raising the bar and stretching yourself and your team. I have personally found that this brings out the best in me," he said.

Elaborating upon the seven steps towards excellence, Mr Premji said,

  • First, we need to create an obsession with excellence. We must dream of excellence not only because it delivers better results, but because we truly believe in it and find it intrinsically satisfying to all of us.

  • Second, we need to build collective self-confidence.

  • Third, we must understand the difference between perfection for its own sake and excellence where time is essence.

  • Four, we must realise that we cannot be the best in everything we do. We must define what we are best at and what someone else can do better. Headaches shared are headaches halved.

  • Five, create processes that enable excellence by building strong foundation on IT, because in this complex, dynamic world, it is imperative that we use the most modern tools to keep processes updated.

  • Six, there is a need to create a culture of teaming. We found at Wipro that while great individuals are important, one cannot have pockets of excellence. Quality gives ample opportunities to build a culture of teaming. Cross-functional teams that are customer facing cut through an amazing amount of bureaucracy.

  • Seven, invest in excellence for the future. Future always seems at a distance. But it comes upon you so suddenly that it catches you by surprise, if not shock. And what constitutes excellence in the future will be significantly different from what it is today.

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