As a senior executive hell-bent on creating the best company in the world from the perspective of your clients, shareholders, people and community, having a continuous improvement mindset is essential. Yesterday I attended a presentation by Christopher Luxon, who as CEO of Air New Zealand led his organisation to domestic and international success, retiring in September last year, well before anybody had heard about Covid-19.
Chris described the context and business case for Air New Zealand adopting a continuous improvement mindset. He phrased it elegantly: ‘Constructively dissatisfied’. It is something I talk to a lot of business leaders about: if you are comfortable with the status quo, you will never achieve greatness. In the past I termed it ‘continuously dissatisfied’, but Chris’ version is more respectful to previous achievement, and does not provide an unintended message to your teams of ‘never good enough’ (that’s why he was CEO of our national carrier and I am not 😊…). So I’ll now steal with pride and make this my new mantra: “Are you constructively dissatisfied?”.
I remember Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck complaining about the lack of ambition he sees in business plans from other entrepreneurs, tongue-in-cheek saying he tosses them away if he could not find the words ‘global domination’. But you cannot achieve national or global success if you are not constructively dissatisfied, if you rest on your laurels, if you are comfortable. Celebrate your business success and achievement, AND be constructively dissatisfied AT THE SAME TIME. Remember the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function .”
Thank you Eastern Bay of Plenty Chamber of Commerce and Lucy Devany for putting on this great event.