Laura Patterson
October 02, 2017

No Growth Strategy Without Culture - Achieving Growth through Operational Excellence

Achieving Growth through Operational Excellence

CEOs are under increasing pressure to achieve growth.

In fact, there is such a push for organizations to orient themselves towards driving growth that research from KPMG suggests nearly 9 in 10 companies “expect their CEO to lead the organization on a strategic growth trajectory.” Does this request sound familiar?   If so, we imagine that you’ve received the memo and know you’re CEO is counting on your team for help.

Growth entails meeting customer expectations while sustaining and improving business performance. This takes Operational Excellence. Your organization’s culture for Operational Excellence is one vital variable you and your team can influence that will either drive or disrupt your organization’s overall growth. Your culture’s Operational Excellence (or lack of it) is reflected in all your processes and interactions both internally with other units or departments, and externally with customers and suppliers.  

What is Operational Excellence? Introduction & Definitions

So How do you 'Develop' an Operational Excellence Culture?

To develop a culture of operational excellence, every employee must, in the words of the Institute for Operational Excellence, “see the flow of value to the customer, and fix that flow before it breaks down.” 

Employ two keys to developing, establishing and enhancing your organization’s culture for Operational Excellence: 

#1 - Make it real.

Document the values and corresponding behaviors (aligned with the company-level mission, vision and values) and describe the culture so that every employee understands the associated principles, goals, and values. Each member of the organization needs to know the specific behaviors you expect them to exhibit. To accomplish this efficiently, consider incorporating a cultural statement into your strategic plan, your business reviews, and your employee reviews. 

Additionally, you should require the leadership team to embody and propagate the desired workplace culture. Furthermore, explore how to translate your company’s culture statement into content to share with customers.  Include the statement in the public domain via your website and social media platforms. For example, if collaboration is a key value, then what that means and how it is manifested needs to permeate across the organization – internally as well as externally.  Internally this might mean employees work in cross-functional teams. Externally, this might impact how you work with suppliers.

Further Reading:

#2 - Protect and nurture your Company Culture.

As you grow and add people and suppliers to your team, your culture is at risk.  After all, the more people involved, the greater the opportunity for dilution. To help curb this effect, recruit with your culture in mind and hire people whose values and behaviors match yours. Write down all the qualities that you think prospective employees and suppliers need and the behaviors you consider essential.  

Then, incorporate these qualities and behaviors into your job descriptions and supplier contracts. For example, if responsiveness is an essential behavior to support your culture, be clear what that means behaviorally. For example, the VP of our business unit in a company I previously worked for was adamant that all phone calls were returned by the end of the business day. This requirement was a crystal clear behavioral representation of his desire to cultivate responsiveness as a behavior indicative of Operational Excellence.

Despite businesses jockeying to be ahead on the growth curve, Janet Yung in her book, “Being Happy and Successful–The Entrepreneur in You,” states that most businesses fall short of achieving their growth objectives for revenue and profitability. Her book purports that success rates are as low as 20%. A large part of this shortcoming is due to the lack of supporting organizational cultures.

If growth is one of the key imperatives, then you must define and build a culture of Operational Excellence to help fuel its potential.


Optimizing Operational Leadership Teams- Strategies for building a strong team

About the Author

Creating a culture of Operational Excellence

Laura takes a practical, no-nonsense approach to proving and improving the value of Marketing. Laura began her 25+ year career in sales and had the great fortune of working across functions spanning customer relationship management and Marketing with a capital “M”.  Today she is at the helm of VisionEdge Marketing, founded in 1999, and is recognized as one of the pio

neers and authorities in the Marketing Performance Management (MPM) discipline.

The company specializes in helping their customers apply data, metrics and proven best-in-class practices to improve Marketing effectiveness, deliver business impact, and enable better business decision-making.  Laura and VisionEdge Marketing are all about making Marketing an engine of growth for organizations.

Interested in learning more about building Operational Excellence to achieve growth? Subscribe to the VisionEdge Marketing blog for expert tips and advice from industry veterans.

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