Published on March 3rd, 2014 | by Dawei Lu

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Excellence Models and the Individualistic Logic

About a year ago, I discussed the business excellence model of commonality logic on my blog on Warwick Blogs. Following this discussion, I would like to share my research on the development of Individualist Logic.

The problem with the commonality logic is that it can only deliver the necessary conditions for achieving business excellence. It offers no theoretical reassurance of the sufficient conditions to achieve the excellence. In fact, the only thing management would like to have in the end is a set of sufficient conditions that guarantee the attainment of excellence. Necessary conditions offer only the first step albeit critically important. The gap between the necessary condition and sufficient condition is, however, not common to all organisations. To fill the gap we must use an alternative theory that addresses the individually specific conditions for excellence – we call this ‘individualistic logic’.

The individualistic logic in the context of assessing business excellence is defined by as

the theoretical reasoning approach that is based on the individually specific conditions that contribute and suffice the business excellence.

It is worth noting that to have something different is by all means ubiquitous; but, having the unique practices that directly result in the market success and excellence is quite another matter, and that is what we are defining. With this definition and its application in the assessment of business excellence, we would suggest a number of potential conceptual implications for debating this:

  • All excellence is a unique excellence, never a ‘common excellence’.
  • The details of a company’s future attainment of excellence cannot be foreseen until unless it has been achieved, since they will be brand new to us.
  • To achieve excellence, companies should not just be benchmarking on the best practices of others, but also cultivating personalised individual unique practices that suit the individual circumstance.
  • Any individually developed unique practice, when proven beneficial for much wider circumstances, becomes the general ‘best practice’, and ceases to be unique to others.
  • The uniqueness or individuality plays equally important roles in achieving excellence.

Today, world-class organisations often owe their achievements and excellence to their individually specific unique practices (including unique strategies, unique business models, and unique operational processes) that fit their specific business environment. Our research shows that all world-class organisations became so by having something unique, something that they do differently from their competitors and as a result, they bring about market success. And the world is replete with evidence of such uniqueness in world-class companies such as Toyota, Zara, Dell, and IKEA. And it is not a coincidence that all four that are on the Forbes 2012 top 25 most admired companies.

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Dawei Lu is a Principal Teaching Fellow at WMG. His portfolio covers a range of dynamic subject areas including logistics, inventory management, lean manufacturing, supplier relationship management, purchasing management, supply chain strategies.

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