To face the competition, or improve your performance in a more difficult economic period, you may be thinking of the magical “lean” recipe. Operational excellence brings results that can sometimes make you think of miracles. However, the pitfalls are numerous, and fortunately, known. I suggest you take a look at them, to guide you to success!
Pitfall #1: Lack of promoters
In an organization of one hundred or several thousand people, it is essential to rely on a critical mass of promoters, who believe in operational excellence and know what it can bring. Without these valuable promoters, it will be impossible to succeed any activity. The easiest way is to get the sponsorship of the most senior leader in the organization. The message will then be relayed more easily. It is also possible to create promoters after making small quick wins. One by one, you will convince your colleagues, their managers and in a logical sequence, other teams. As the number of promoters grows and reaches a certain level, you can count on the weight of this critical mass to obtain the necessary decisions and take action!
Pitfall #2: Departure of the promoter
As explained above, the ideal is to have the highest leader of the organization as official promoter of the process. Since operational excellence often requires a culture change, this is the easiest way. However, to protect yourself from the departure of this person, it is necessary that all senior leaders, as well as the board of directors embrace the concepts of operational excellence. To be in agreement with the process or to have confidence in the person who implants it is one thing. Understanding how it will contribute to the success of the organization is another! This requires personal investment in training, as well as the study of reference works that will help to understand the nuances and founding philosophical principles behind the tools.
Pitfall #3: Restrict yourself to a cost reduction logic
The implementation of tools for the sole purpose of reducing costs is the most frequent cause of failure. Indeed, the concepts are diverted from their essence in order to justify a cost reduction operation. There is no doubt that operational excellence helps reduce costs, but it is never its primary goal. With the help of expert consultants or qualified employees, it will be possible to work on streamlining projects and gain thousands of dollars each year. However, wastes and losses may reappear quickly. In fact, in a hunt for costs, one sometimes makes a mistake: by reducing the costs of one function, one increases de facto those of another. More details in the article Fly against the wind.
Pitfall #4: Failure of one or more projects
I did not fail, I only found 10,000 ways that did not work.Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931), American inventor and businessman
You have overcome the first challenges, and started your first project, congratulations! However, this achievement may not have brought all the expected results. It’s time to take a step back and ask yourself: What did not work well? Why were the results not fully achieved? You may have fallen into one of the first three traps (or one of the four that I describe in this article). Maybe you lack internal skills? Whatever the reason, you have to improve and start again.
To start successfully implementing a culture of operational excellence, senior management must be involved in the process. Then, progress slowly, according to the principle of kaizen (continuous and progressive improvement).