Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary on a Japanese sushi restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, that is full of great quotes for those interested in continual improvement. Throughout the film people discuss a never ending focus on doing better and better – never becoming complacent.
Quotes from Jiro Dreams of Sushi:
Jiro: “Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with what you do… You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That is the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably.”
Jiro: “There is always room for improvement.”
Jiro: “I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit.”
Jiro: “I feel ecstasy every day. I love making sushi.”
Fish seller: “When you think you know it all, you then realize you are just fooling yourself.”
Food critic ~ “when you work for Jiro he teaches you for free. But you have to endure years of training.
Apprentice: “But there is only so much you can learn from words. I have to keep practicing.”
Jiro: ~ (paraphrased and changed a bit) “When the fish gets to me the sushi is 95% complete. I prepare it in front of the customer so get the credit but the truth is the person doing the least work gets most of the credit”
Jiro’s eldest son, Yoshikazu: “Always strive to elevate your craft.”
The focus is on the dining experience in total. The meal is composed of elements that are designed to work together with the focus on quality of the individual dishes but also on the interaction between the individual items and the complete experience.
The respect for suppliers is also seen in the film. Jiro’s eldest son says (approximately) “we are experts at sushi and we know a great deal but the tuna vendor we use knows more about tuna, the shrimp vendor knows more about shrimp… we trust them.” Later Jiro says (again from my memory), “we buy our rice from our vendor because Mr. ___ (I can’t remember the name) knows more about rice than anyone else, I trust him to provide what is best for us.”
They even touch on the bigger picture. Jiro’s son: “overfishing is the problem. Finding good fish is getting harder and harder… There should be regulations enforced on only catching bigger fish. Business should balance profit with preserving natural resources.”
As with any example there are particulars that you can learn from and specifics that don’t apply well to your situation. I know next to nothing about kitchens of world class restaurants but what I do know is they seem extremely dedicated to their work (much more so than many other organizations are interested in striving for). They also seem to be more autocratic than most other modern organizations. They also seem much more focused on perfecting the process to achieve the best result even if that requires a great deal more work than some alternative that produces very good results.