This is a fairly good quote on a good management system. Some people might not like the mechanistic model – comparing an organization to a clock, and I agree that isn’t the right model, but even so it is a good quote.
The quote, from a story about the San Antonio Spurs captures what should happen with a good management system. Things just keep running well as inevitable changes take place (and keep getting better in the case of a management system).
A good management system doesn’t rely on heroic efforts to save the day. The organization is designed to success. It is robust. It will succeed with all the variation thrown at it by the outside world. A good management system takes advantage of the contributions people offer, but it is not perform poorly when others are relied on.
A well run organization has graceful degradation (when one component fails or one person is missing the performance doesn’t suffer, bad results are avoided).
An organization succeeds because of the efforts of many great people. But the management system has to be created for an organization to prosper as what we all know will happen, happens: people will leave and need to be replaced. And the people that stay will need to adjust to new conditions inside the organization and in response to external forces. A good management system is constantly improving performance, innovating, increasing the robustness of systems and increasing the capability of people.
Related: Bad Weather is Part of the Transportation System – How to Sustain Long Term Enterprise Excellence – Performance dependent on specific individuals is not robust and not capable of continuous high quality performance – European Blackout: Human Error-Not