Creating the burning platform
This is a classic case of implementing one change by focussing on another – create a successful Continuous Improvement culture by focussing on developing Operational Management disciplines.
The hard thing is that this needs the commitment, discipline and effort from Senior Managers and Executive.
Everyone, especially upper management, will complain that they’re too busy to focus on operational performance details. But without operational performance, the organisation ceases to exist. And operations is exactly where most of the issues (high costs, unacceptable service, poor quality) in a company come from!
What does Operational Management provide?
- Broad, balanced focus on multiple business metrics
- Hourly, Daily, Monthly and Annual performance perspectives
- Active management of risks and issues – either before or immediately after they arrive
- Consistency of performance
- Improved business acumen
- Visibility, awareness, appreciation for performance
- Sensitivity to any external factors/changes which have the potential to detrimentally influence performance. Can lead to over-protectionism but if used correctly, this sensitivity can lead to proactive, positive actions to mitigate performance risks.
How does Operational Management lead to Continuous Improvement?
- Intimate knowledge of performance at all management levels
- Highlights areas of continual under-performance
- Understanding of key influencing factors over time, e.g. seasonal trends
- Provides a ready proof-point to see whether recent changes have improved or degraded performance
- Provides a visible history where previous performance can be reviewed, understood and then hypotheses discussed
Note that all of the above are required aspects of a ‘traditional’ improvement methodology! And it doesn’t require specialised training to be able to implement improvements. As long as Operational Management exists, then Continuous Improvement will naturally follow.
Continuous Improvement exists only when you can stop talking about Continuous Improvement.
Unless you see this in action, it’s hard to imagine what it looks like.