Anyone who works in an organisation sees the importance of improvement and the value of a positive mindset. At the heart of every business are an idea and purpose. This purpose is then delivered to the customer who derives benefit from it. Overall, to make a business successful, both its people and its processes have to continue to offer said value. Through operational excellence, an organisation can support a mindset that is driven around the common goal of improvement and execution of its promised results.
Although operational excellence may seem to be a vague idea, there are practical ways to ensure your organisation is in line to achieve this mindset. From investing in technology and automation, maximising efficiency and using analytics to measure results, there are strategies to make operational excellence happen.
Here, we will define what operational excellence means, the principles behind the idea, and useful methodologies for implementation.
Operational excellence is a philosophy and mindset in business that positions its strategies and people around problem-solving and leadership. It helps to ensure that processes are designed to prioritise the customer’s needs, while also supporting the morale of internal stakeholders like employees. As such, employees feel motivated and inspired to deliver results to the best of their abilities.
With operational excellence, employees also have the training, resources and most importantly, the positive mindset to act as constructive, analytical thinkers and problem-solvers. This means that if and when an issue arises, they have the confidence and knowledge to address and resolve it. Overall, having an attitude geared towards operational excellence becomes part of the company culture. This helps to serve the inner workings of business better, and ultimately, its customers.
When operational excellence exists within a business, the business is positioned to beat out the competition because it can perform more reliably and strategically by lowering costs, lessening risk and ultimately, increasing revenue.
So, how do you achieve operational excellence?
There are specific methodologies, but from a top-line view, here are three critical elements:
It’s easy to confuse a topic we’ve focused on before, namely continuous improvement with operational excellence. That’s because both of them play to the general idea that business can always be better and operate more smoothly.
However, the key differences between the two are:
As a business leader, it’s up to you to instil a culture of operational excellence. From a top-down approach, it means providing your team with everything they need to understand the business and feel like an integral part of its inner workings.
As such, they will be actively involved in improving and serving the experience on behalf of your clientele.
Now that you understand the philosophy let’s get practical. Here’s how you apply operational excellence in your workplace:
1. Design lean value streams: Minimises waste and unnecessary outputs allows you to deliver your product or service to your customers more quickly. Data Automation tools help make this possible by streamlining workflow and eliminating bottlenecks.
2. Make value stream flows: Make sure you train everyone to understand the process and work together towards achieving business goals.
3. Share visual flows: Use tools like process modelling and visualisation software to show your employees visually how the process works. That way, everyone is on board with how the starting point creates the endpoint.
1. Make abnormal discharge for visual: One way to approach problems is to make sure they are visually noticeable to team members. For example, with process automation, the software tool can alert you when something is wrong, or information is missing. That way, the responsible party can address the issue immediately and continue the process.
2. Create standard work for abnormal flow: Document problems that arise. That way, when something comes up, you have a standardised method to address and resolve the issue.
3. Have employees in the flow improve the flow: Leverage your team for process improvement always. Those who deal with it daily know it best and can help to make it better.
4. Perform offence activities: When your team is equipped to manage processes, and they flow automatically, they can spend more time devising new strategies and coming up with innovative ideas.
Here are some methods for helping achieve operational excellence that also support process improvement:
No one purports that operational excellence is easy to achieve. However, there are some common challenges that organisations face. By understanding what they are, you can devise strategies to overcome them. Challenges include:
Ultimately, an organisation is bound to face ups and downs. With operational excellence, everyone involved is on board to approach problems strategically. The mindset of operational excellence supports an organisation and its people to beat the competition, continuously improve, and strive towards perfection.
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