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Last month’s article “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone” allowed me to write out what inspired me the most at the International DJ Expo in Atlantic City. To reiterate, I made mention of a few performers that clearly went above and beyond the standard and were able to do it by never settling for anything less than greatness. They were able to do that by getting out of their comfort zone.
I also mentioned that getting out of your comfort zone is a necessary step toward continuous improvement and I want to elaborate on that in relation to building a quality-based organization.
Successful quality management depends greatly on three fundamental principles:
• Continuous improvement
• Customer focus
• Teamwork and participation
This month, I will focus on continuous improvement because the other two principles won’t work as well without it. Continuous improvement in business practice is a never ending learning process that helps improve your skills and knowledge. It also gives you the advantage you typically need over your competitors. For instance, did Tiger Woods stop practicing golf just because he learned to play the game or because he’s already great? Mastering a skill takes practice, practice, and more practice; especially when competitors are ready to take that title away from you.
Were you ever acquainted with someone that thought they knew everything? What about someone who thought they were an expert at a particular skill after learning it? When it comes to managing a quality-focused organization, that type of mentality won’t “cut it.”
A friend once asked me why I chose business administration for my graduate studies when I already had experience with owning a business. Although I have many reasons for pursuing my MBA, my first response to his question was to ask him why he assumed that I already knew everything there was to know about business just from the experience of owning one. Wouldn’t that be a little arrogant or narrow-minded of me? Without waiting for his response, I continued explaining to him that there’s always something new to learn and new ways to improve upon what we already know.
The best advice I can give for someone that wishes to implement a continuous improvement policy in their organization is to start from upper management and work your way down. Within your organization, managers must lead by example and therefore practice and support continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is a state of mind, not an item on the checklist. Remember the guy I mentioned that thought he knew everything? How well do you think he’ll support an environment that promotes continuous improvement? As a manager you have to offer ways to encourage learning in your organization by providing training, resources, meetings and whatever methods it takes to make your people better at what they do.
The other advice is to ensure you’re ready to receive constructive criticism. Don’t hide in the corner when you hear something bad about yourself, your products, or your services. Take the information to heart and do what you can to improve yourself and avoid such negativity. The best example is the latest Dominoes Pizza advertising campaign. To get the message out about the improvements they’ve made to their pizza they ran a series of commercials this year. The first commercial showed a group of executives watching a video survey of a girl stating that their pizza crust tastes like cardboard. Your first reaction might be, “Why would Dominoes show us that?” but the message is clear. They know that some people don’t like their product but they won’t hide from the criticism. Because they cared so much about the feedback, they devised a way to improve the product.
Aside from improving your business management skills, there are many ways to improve your skills as a professional music DJ continuously. Music literacy, for instance, is an ongoing process as new artists and songs arise. We therefore must stay current with the latest dance hits. DJ mixing is also a skill we can continuously improve upon. Beat mixing, scratching, and other DJ skills always need improvement to stand out from all the other DJs in the industry. As the party DJ, MC or party motivator, we can also improve regularly as new audience participation dances become known and must be taught to the public. You can also think outside the box and choreograph your own audience participation dances and routines like many of the top performers in the industry.
As you can see when it comes to practicing quality, it takes a lot of continuous effort to make yourself the best you can be. If you’re passionate about your work, the extra effort will seem like no effort. Next month, I’ll talk about the second quality principle but for now, take time to learn more and practice what you can to set yourself apart from your competitors. Good luck!
Mike can be reached at