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Dr. King’s Words For Operational Excellence

January 20th, 2013

Martin Luther King was a religious and political leader.  This is neither a religious nor political blog.  But work and morality are inextricably linked.  Consider Shakerism’s belief in efficiency and hard work. Think how Shaker furniture personifies their morality.  Their work methods were their ethics.  How you think about work is a moral issue.  What you produce is a reflection of your morals.  So arguably Operational Excellence, which is a system by which you work, reflects a set of ethics by which to express your morals about work.
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So with that framework in mind, on this day of celebration of his civil rights accomplishments, let us look at how Martin Luther King’s words address our work.

Excellence

“He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lives a great street-sweeper who did his job well’.”

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence”

“Whatever you life’s work is, do it well.  A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead and the unborn could do it no better.”

“Whatever effects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

Change & Improvement

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.”

Align Activities to Goals

Leadership

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

“I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”

Education & Thought

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.”

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than to have to think.”

There is morality in our work. There are ethics in how we accomplish it.  There is value in looking to how men and women the likes of Martin Luther King speak to morality and ethics including how their words reflect upon our work.  Please let me know your thoughts by contacting me.

  1. Sarah Logan
    January 22nd, 2013 at 10:25 | #1

    Lovely post for today and so true. The quote about street sweeping reminded me of Thich Nhat Hanh and the story about the man who wanted to be a monk but was not accepted into the priesthood. He asked if could wash the dishes and was so inspirational in carrying out his duties that he drew people to the monastery.

  2. January 22nd, 2013 at 21:05 | #2

    Thanks for the great story. We should all strive to be like him. We don’t always do it. But we can pick up and try again.

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