Operational Excellence Goes Beyond Leadership

By definition, operational excellence is the culmination of problem-solving, teamwork and leadership resulting in the ongoing improvement of an organization. This balanced system ensures the processes and attitudes present in day-to-day operations are always efficient, effective and steadily improving an organization.

Even though an organization relies on the leadership of its executive team to drive operational excellence, these high standards become a way of life for every member of a company, regardless of their status. Some simple examples of operational excellence are:

  •    Line workers who work with their peers to find better efficiencies with their daily tasks.
  •    Hiring managers vetting new candidates who possess necessary skills not just for the identified job position, but also for future progression within the organization.
  •    A vice president of operations who reaches out to other business units (IT, Finance, HR, Sales) before signing off on the purchase of new equipment to reduce the risk of surprise challenges once the equipment is in place.

Remember that improvement is the best indication that operational excellence has affected the entire organization. The main characteristics of operational excellence are:

  1. Identify key processes. Processes that create value or consume a lot of time and resources should be paid a lot of attention. These are going to be the main factors that one should seek to improve first for the maximum benefit.
  2. Come up with a plan. With the key processes identified, find out what can be done for improvement, not just directly, but indirectly as well. Design a workflow that incorporates the culmination of ideal action, resources needed and number of workers to make a process easier.
  3. Have standards. With any changes, metrics are important to gauge the “new normal” for refined processes. These numbers will help determine what to expect for regular operations or if there is a sudden increase in projects. This metrics system can also be helpful for stakeholders who are directly in control of resources that are needed to run crucial operations.
  4. Use improvements to stay innovative. With any organization, there should always be opportunities for innovation to influence further growth. Employees should always be sure to tweak any processes to make sure they are as efficient and profitable for the organization as possible and develop new ways to reach organizational goals.
  5. Zoom Out. Take a big step back to see a broader picture for how improvements could also beneficially impact other inter-relational business units which can lead indirectly to an even larger expense reduction on the bottom line.

Every employee in an organization is responsible for operational excellence. To get all departments running efficiently to its best ability contributes, while looking out for the greater good of their department counterparts, makes a huge impression on the overall excellence of an organization and its profitability.