When implementing Operational Excellence, a common question is whether an organization needs to first address its culture or can dive right in and start applying tools. While many companies opt for the latter approach to feel they’re “doing” something immediately, there’s a downside. Using lean techniques without tackling the workplace environment head on can cause a big problem: the inability to sustain change.
Reaching Your Destination
While tools work and, by applying them, a business will see progress, simply using them in area after area without a destination will result in a never-ending journey. Instead, a better approach is to start by explaining to employees that Operational Excellence isn’t about getting better every day. In fact, it’s a common myth that OpEx is just like other lean and CI programs. Instead, it’s about moving the company from point A to Point B, meaning, it’s a journey with a destination. And that destination is: when each employee can see the flow of value to the customer, and fix that flow before it breaks down.℠
How OpEx = Business Growth
This definition of Operational Excellence lays the foundation from which a company can grow the business by providing a tangible destination for all the improvement efforts to all employees. Everyone, at all levels, will understand how OpEx will not only impact the customer but the company as well, giving context for the effort rather than just doing lean for lean’s sake. Once employees see where the company is going, the next step is to make the link between it and top-line business growth.
Specifically, after achieving Operational Excellence, employees will know if the flow of the product or service to the customer is on time. Moreover, the flow will be autonomous because the employees working in it will be able to see if it’s normal and, if not, fix it before it becomes abnormal. And that will free up management to take on a more valuable role and focus on activities that drive market share like working with customers and new product development.
The Right Time to Apply Tools
This result will be a sustainable transformation that will excite everyone from leadership to shop-floor employees, who are all invested in the company’s success. Learn more about successfully transforming. Once they understand how they will contribute to the organization’s profitability and that OpEx is a strategic plan for long-term growth, that’s the time to apply advanced lean tools to achieve it.