The Importance of Education to an Office OpEx Implementation

Published on June 7, 2017

The Importance of Education to an Office OpEx Implementation

In March of 2017, Institute Senior Faculty Member Tim Healey and guest Natasha Bastien, an Operational Excellence and Change Leadership Internal Coach at a large, privately-owned company, presented a webinar titled “Collaborating for Culture Changes in the Office to Drive OpEx.” Here are insights they shared about how to overcome cultural barriers to successfully transition offices to Operational Excellence.

Reduce Anxiety With Education

Almost every employee fears change to some degree. And when designing value streams in business processes, things are going to change. Education can go a long way towards reducing anxiety simply by showing employees what they can expect, and is critical to the launch of a successful Operational Excellence journey.

Hold an Introductory Workshop

The first step when setting a destination of Operational Excellence should be to hold an introductory workshop about OpEx for all employees – or at a minimum, those who will be on the first team implementing a value stream. (Remember to start with the team who is most likely to succeed.) In the session, start by sharing the definition of Operational Excellence, explaining what they’ll see and how they’ll work once it’s achieved, and highlighting how the entire company will benefit. Be sure to tailor the information to the group by using different examples and stories for engineers than for lawyers, for example. That way, employees can relate to the application and understand what Operational Excellence will really mean for them.

During the workshop, it’s important that workers also understand that Operational Excellence isn’t just a concept, but will define the way they work. That means they should be told their certain behaviors will likely need to change, and management should be upfront about this fact. For example, if there are problems with input quality from one department and employees in other areas have are been compensating for them by taking time to fix the mistakes, that’s rework that has to stop in the future state. When people can anticipate that their behavior may need to change, they’re able to prepare mentally, which leads to quicker acceptance.

Get Employees Involved in the Process

To further encourage buy-in in the transformation, the workshop should also get into a more detailed discussion and hands-on application on the principles of Operational Excellence. While these concepts may be foreign to many employees, explaining them in the context of each employee’s own work and how it fits into the whole end-to-end process along with everyone else’s will make it easier to understand. One way to help put the material in perspective is to have the workers in the flow take part in activities like mapping the current state, designing the future one, and identifying standard work for abnormal flow. Once employees are engaged in the process, they are much more likely to move to a state of adoption. 

Hold 1:1 Coaching Sessions With Management

Following the workshop, it’s important to be sure management and leadership receive education as well. One approach to keep them engaged is to hold separate one-on-one coaching sessions. These meetings will give participants the opportunity to ask questions about what they can expect from the Operational Excellence implementation and their new role in it. Taking the time to have these discussions can help create supportive relationships that can get other employees on board and further the business’ goals over the long term.

Positive Feedback Builds Momentum

Once the first team achieves Operational Excellence, it will build momentum for other areas in the office. When the initial value stream is up and running, it will create curiosity. Others will ask about the visuals or how the employees’ work has been impacted. And when their colleagues explain that Operational Excellence makes their lives easier and that they can finish now their workday on time, that will drive other workers to ask for a workshop to start value stream design in their area – and so on.   


Natasha Bastien is an Operational Excellence & Change Leadership Internal Coach at a large, privately-owned company. Tim Healey is a Senior Faculty Member at the Institute for Operational Excellence.

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