Think for a moment of the one business or departmental challenge you faced in a prior role that, despite your best intentions, you never figured out a way to prioritize and solve.
If you are a VP of Sales, for instance, you may still be lamenting the fact that after rolling out a new customer relationship management system, you never got 100 percent buy-in… let alone 50 percent! If you lead finance, it may be that one of your financial processes could be characterized as “death by spreadsheets,” despite your knowing that there was a way to automate the process.
As a business owner for more than two decades, the “issue-I-should-have-addressed” is something I think about every single day. I will use my most recent company, Atrion, as an example. As many of you know, Atrion was a Rhode Island-based IT services firm that grew from a two-man, spare-bedroom operation to a $160-million, 260-plus employee organization before I sold in October of 2016. I love the legacy we created at Atrion and the way we lived out our purpose—to have a positive impact on the lives of others. But even to this day, I can’t help but think of the five to 10 things that, had I invested in fixing back then, could have made that legacy even stronger.
In business, we can often pinpoint the exact process and systems bottlenecks standing in the way of our desired transformation, yet we do little to tackle these challenges. Sometimes we think we have good reason:
But, at the end of the day, these are just excuses… excuses that stand in the way of an organization’s ability to reach operational excellence.
The term “Operational Excellence” has long been used to describe organizations that successfully leverage operations and proven process to achieve business growth. Organizations that subscribe to this mentality often incorporate Lean-based components into their business model, specifically focusing on how to eliminate organizational waste (e.g. defects, waiting, overproduction—more on that here). The Institute for Operational Excellence defines “operational excellence” as the point in which: “Each and every employee can see the flow of value to the customer, and fix that flow before it breaks down.”
Here at Trilix, though, we have our own definition of operational excellence that pulls from the pillars mentioned above. To us, organizations that center on operational excellence:
Uniquely understand the powerful way people, processes and technologies fuse together to move an organization toward its desired future state. It’s about approaching and making every business decision—whether strategic, philosophical, tactical, technological, etc.—against that operational excellence model.
Organizations that reach operational excellence do so because they:
Organizations that subscribe to operational excellence subscribe to a mindset, a determination to execute their business like a fine-tooted comb and nourish their voracious appetite for change. Organizations with this disposition enjoy many gains—from reduced inefficiencies to improved employee loyalty. These are the companies that also end up building unbreakable client relationships because they are continually reinventing in their people, processes and technologies to better serve their external audience. In many ways, the term “operational excellence” is synonymous to “innovative,” “transformative,” “revolutionary” and “differentiated.”
Related Reading: Make One Change—Uncover a Masterpiece
So if operational excellence is the desired endgame, what happens if a business fails to reach it? Let’s take a look…
The Cost of Not Reaching Operational Excellence
Companies that fail to reach operational excellence encounter steep repercussions that can fall into any of the following categories:
Think back to that one business challenge I asked you to identify at the beginning of this post. Remember it? Now think of one that is present in your current business environment. Write that down.
Realistically, if you don’t prioritize operational excellence, the business challenge you just wrote down will become the first obstacle you thought of—both falling into the category of “I wish I tackled this at the time.”
So… what’s one step you can take today to make sure that item doesn’t become tomorrow’s regret?
About the Author
Tim Hebert, CEO and Founder, Trilix / Chief Managed Services Officer, Carousel Industries
A perennial entrepreneur and innovator, Tim Hebert is committed to expounding on the importance of digital transformation, change management and the fusion of people, process and technology to derive positive business outcomes.
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