It’s important for any business to understand not only what it does well, but also how it does it. Without giving away too many trade secrets, here is how I help clients accelerate growth through operational excellence.
I was sitting down with a friend of mine, Joseph Wise, and we were talking about the challenges businesses have today around growth. Not just revenue growth, but also the number of employees. He asked me this question about my clients, “Does their office space align with their culture?” I told him that I had to think more about that, but that probably many of them didn’t think of office space in that context. It was an interesting perspective and I asked Joseph to provide me something that I could share with my clients and colleagues to help them think about office space differently.
In the attached document, Joseph provides some key questions to think about when considering new office space.
Miller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.
Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between
Toronto – March 25, 2013
Lululemon Athletica has been in the news a lot lately because of massive recalls of the black yoga pants that have made them so famous. The recalls were a result of the material being too sheer and not living up to the company’s standards for quality. This is an unfortunate situation for Lululemon, but only the first real hiccup we have seen from this rapidly growing company. Now is not the time to panic. It is still a great company that makes great products and has a very loyal customer base. The analysts have declared that the sky is falling, but Lululemon has a terrific opportunity to resolve this issue quickly and minimize the damage. Here’s what they should be doing:
“Rapidly growing companies often encounter some issues as a result of that rapid growth,” says Andrew Miller, President of ACM Consulting. “That is why it is important for organizations to grow responsibly. Even some of the best companies in the world, like Toyota and RIM, are not immune to issues resulting from rapid growth.“
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Every industry changes. The only questions are why it changes and when it will change . The economy, the technology, the competitiion, the customer. There are only so many reasons why an industry changes. How do you (or will you) react when it does?
There are only two ways to react: play the victim and complain about it; or look at it as an opportunity for reinvention. Guess what the most successful companies in the world do?
Here are some thoughts on how to thrive when your industry shifts or gets disrupted:
- Figure out how the shift or disruption will impact your customers and help them through it. You will likely end up developing new services to offer them and you will definitely build brand loyalty.
- Use it as the excuse you have been looking for to get out of the industry altogether. This provides a great excuse for getting out of unprofitable ventures.
- Anticipate the next shift and get ahead of the curve.
- Watch what others are doing to be successful and build on it. You don’t have to be the first-mover.
- Focus on the strengths of your orgnanization and find complimentary offerings that you can provide.
- Look for performance boosts in areas where you wouldn’t normally look.
- Use it as an excuse to change your organizational culture and focus on innovation.
There are many others I could list, but first you need to decide who you want to be, the victim or the victor.
I was recently reading a post by Jeff Gitomer on how to best the best in sales every day. He developed a list of 10 things to do.
A couple of the items on the list just don’t seem to make sense to me. He suggests waking up early because the early bird gets the worm and converting all of your TV watching time to study and preparation of your skills and development. The way I interpret these statements is that you need to work longer hours in order to be successful. I disagree with this premise. I think the ones who are best at what they do actually work less hours because they are more efficient and productive. They have figured out a way to achieve great results without tying those results to the number of hours they work.
Gitomer’s advice seems to be targeting sales people who are purely focused on volume. “The more calls I make, the more money I will make. It’s all about the percentages.” But that kind of selling is gone. It doesn’t work anymore. The most successful sales people only focus on the best opportunities and building strong relationships. People buy from people and organizations they know and trust.
Of course I agree that personal and professional development is important and one needs to build on their strengths. But the focus shouldn’t be about working longer hours or making as many calls as possible. It should be about developing the right relationships with the right people and focusing on the most profitable opportunities.
For those that are interested, here is the post that I was referring to Jeff Gitomer’s post.
Now, back to watching TV.
Get ready, because here comes a provocative idea. Everything anyone has ever said about operational excellence is wrong. Until now.
Operational excellence is about driving innovation and managing talent and enhacing customer engagement and ensure strategy aligns with tactics and determining optimal enterprise velocity. But it is not about lean and six sigma and any other methodology that people want to discuss. Operational excellence is a mindset, not a tool. It helps increase profitability, productivity, retention, engagement, empowerment, innovation, and many other things.
Most of the people who write and talk about operational excellence discuss it in the context of manufacturing. Operational excellence becomes synonomous with the Toyota Production System and other systems and methodologies. This view is wrong. It is too narrow, too limiting and not comprehensive enough. It’s easy to say operational excellence is only for manufacturing organizations.
I help clients pursue operational excellence and make tremendous improvements, yet very few of my clients are manufacturers. We need to get away from this narrow view.
I was recently reading Kevin J. Duggan’s book Design for Operational Excellence. In the book, Duggan talks about flow of value to the customer and the processes that the organization follows. He also talks about Lean and Six Sigma, but there was nothing about people and very little about culture. When culture was mentioned, it was only considered after an organization reduces operating costs. What kind of culture would an organization have if their focus was cost-cutting? Not one that many people want to work for.
Operational excellence is not just about developing a better process or eliminating waste or increasing standardization. That only works in very specific environments and for repetitive tasks. Operational excellence is about creating a different culture. A culture focused on adding value and making improvements and optimizing speed. That culture needs to come first, not as an afterthought.
Operational excellence is also about collaboration and partnerships and has to take into account external partners and organizations.
Too many people talk about operational excellence and only focus on what happens inside an organization with it’s flow and it’s processes. The real definition of operational excellence must have an internal and external focus. On employees, on customers, on suppliers and on other business partners. Only then can a company say they have achieved excellence.
Duggan’s book has some good ideas, but a more comprehensive view of operational excellence needs to be taken in order to truly generate breakthrough results for an organization. You can only achieve so much when you focus on standardization and eliminating waste. No company ever cut their way to growth (maybe to survival, but not sustained growth). We need to take the blinders off and broaden our view of operational excellence so organizations can achieve even greater heights.