Operational Excellence Global View – How the Big Name Companies Achieve It


Andrew discusses how successful companies use innovation, speed and managing/attracting talent, to achieve operational excellence.

Working remotely is the new way of the world

While on vacation with my family, I helped a client solve a problem, I closed a deal with a new client, I kicked off a new client project, I helped a colleague with a client issue and I set up some meetings with prospective clients. So what's my point? That the world is becoming more remote, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Here are the benefits of increasing the amount of remote work you do:

  1. You are able to be more responsive to situations because you don't need to get people together in a room to resolve an issue
  2. You are accessible from wherever you are (assuming you have a cell phone)
  3. You are able to improve your work-life balance (because of #2)
  4. You are able to work with more clients or customers or colleagues on different initiatives
  5. You create a focus on results, not "face time" (this is especially important for people in my line of work)
  6. You become more productive because there is less travel time
  7. You improve your ability to analyze and resolve problems quickly

This is not to say that remote work should replace meeting with people face to face, but it should be done in conjunction with it. There are always situations where a face to face meeting is the best course of action. However, that is not as often as we generally believe, especially if there is already a relationship established. If problems can be resolved faster, then why not take advantage of it?

Why go Faster

In my blog post yesterday, I wrote about the keys to speed and how some organizations are able to operate faster than others. You can read the post here.

Today, I want to talk about why it is important to increase the speed of your organization.

Here are the benefits of increasing your enterprise velocity, which will in turn help you create a competitive advantage:

  • You get new products and services to market faster
  • You increase the productivity of your employees and allow them to work on more value-added activities (or improve their life balance by leaving the office earlier or not working weekends)
  • You acquire new customers faster
  • You realize additional revenue sooner by creating loyal customers and brand ambassadors more rapidly
  • You attract dynamic and strong talent
  • You are able to tweak or change business models faster than the competition
  • You resolve customer service issues quickly
  • You have stronger relationships with suppliers and business partners
  • You reduce costs
  • You make decisions faster
  • You reduce lead times and delivery times

All of these benefits have a direct or indirect positive impact on your company's profits, so why wouldn't you try to increase the speed at which you operate?

The Keys to Speed

Have you ever wondered why some organizations are able to operate faster than others without sacrificing the quality of their offerings? Well if you have, here are some insights as to why:

  • They focus on quality. They ask "How can we get our offerings to market faster without sacrificing quality?" Too many companies only focus on speed, and not quality (see RIM and the initial release of the Playbook tablet for an example of focusing on speed and not quality).
  • They don't panic. Speed isn't always being about the first to market. Ford invented the motor car, yet how many automakers companies are now more successful than they are?
  • They expect bumps in the road and are ready for them. Just like driving a car, there will be potholes, traffic, accidents, pedestrians and construction that you need to navigate through. Prepare a plan (a route) to get you where you need to be.
  • They are never satisfied with the status quo. These organizations are constantly pursuing ways to do things faster and better.
  • They take risks. You will never know how fast you can operate until you push your own organizational limits. With risks come rewards.
  • They know when to slow down. Sometimes the business environment requires organizations to slow down and choose a new direction or at least assess where they are. The best companies know when to do that and how to change course quickly.

Now you have no excuse when it comes to speeding up the way you operate. Don't forget to buckle your seatbelt.

Global healthcare opportunity #5: Provide a clear vision of the future

The one thing that is often lacking in healthcare is a global vision. What do we want the future of healthcare to look like? I was at a conference the other day and someone said that the goal of Canadian healthcare should be to ensure that our healthcare system was at least as good, if not better, for our children. I thought this was a pretty good start as an underlying principle, but is it a good enough vision? Maybe.

Like many organizations, the healthcare system needs a clear vision of its future state. What is the model? What are the underlying principles? What does the future state look like? Only then can we determine the best way to get there. If you don't know your final destination, then how can you plan the route to get there? This requires leadership and an ability to take into account the needs of many different stakeholder groups-patients, doctors, nurses, healthcare administrators, pharmacists, etc. Right now, many heathcare systems are lacking the appropriate leadership and need to start with the basics, deciding on their final destination.

Global healthcare opportunity #4: Take Pressure off of Hospitals

Right now, many hospital systems put an inordinate amount of pressure on hospitals. Patients are staying for long periods of time because they have nowhere else to go, doctors are required to perform minor procedures that nurses are trained to perform and many governments don't want to admit that there are other options for those that can afford it. In Canada, approximately 7,500 people are living in hospitals (living is defined as having been there longer than 100 days) because they have nowhere else to go. That costs the system approximately $7.5m every day!!! Does that sound like an efficient system? We need a system where these people have a place to go where they get better care that is more cost effective. The hospital is the most expensive place they can be.

We need to develop local clinics and providers who can take much of this pressure off of hospitals. Hospitals should be a place where people go for emergencies and specific kinds of specialty care, not a catchall where patients stay because they have nowhere else to go. Develop local communities and homecare facilities to support those that need a place to go and be cared for, provide for better home care and give people options when it is time for them to be discharged from hospitals.

Like most businesses, much is lost in the transition from one system process to another. However, in most businesses this leads to lost money and profits. In healthcare, this leads to lost money and lost patients. There are lives at stake here so let's make a better effort to fix the problem.