Sisir Padhy
February 14, 2020

Sustaining Operational Excellence: Why so hard?

Sisir Padhy has written an article on his interpretation of the Global State of Operational Excellence Survey Report - Critical Challenges & Future Trends - 2018/2019. Click here to read the full Survey Report 2018/19


The Most Comprehensive Study of Critical Challenges and Future Trends within Operational Excellence

With nearly 1000 respondents, 37 insightful questions, detailed analysis & insights from 40 industry thought leaders, and the BTOES Insights executive team, this 130 page report is recognised as the most comprehensive study of critical challenges and future trends within Operational Excellence, and is considered a key resource for the industry. Areas covered include:

  • The Critical Operational Excellence Challenges faced by executives.

  • The Current Scope of Operational Excellence.

  • How is Operational Excellence success measured?

  • Key Findings & Roadblocks.

  • What are executives focusing on over the next 12-18 months?

  • What have been the greatest developments?

  • What are the key drivers pushing change in Operational Excellence?

  • Industry Perspectives.

  • Small, Medium & Large Corporation Perspectives.

  • Detail Analysis & Insights from BTOES Insights Executive Team.

  • Detailed Analysis & Insights from 40 Industry Thought Leaders.

  • Analysis of key themes, including Cultural Transformation, Customer Delight, Sustaining an Operational Excellence program, Need for end-to-end Business Transformation, Keeping up with new technologies/impact of digitalization and Leadership Buy-in & Understanding.


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Sustaining Operational Excellence: Why so hard?

Change for meaningful impact

There is saying that consistent water flow can cut a rock…many times we change for sake of change, so we can make a statement that we changed and buy time. Many leaders make a change to make a statement that they are in helm. Then we wonder why the operational excellence program failed? It is the most difficult part we do not do well…how to sustain? 

Yet how many of those changes have any meaningful impact. There are companies who led the industry in revolutionizing operational excellence, yet has fallen from grace, because their inability to sustain the golden path. Click here to read more Articles on The Global State of Operational Excellence: Critical Challenges & Future Trends - Research Report 2018/19.




Staying focussed

When we take away the focus from something that is universally good, by calling it different names, adding a new tool, or a new flavor, we destroy the essence of the good journey we had. The better thing may be to always keep the fire by inspiring, by making it a standard practice in the corporation, making a permanent department, a standard function in a corporation, rather than an initiative, a flavor de-jour.


For example, the sorbaney-Oxeley act is now in general responsibility of part of the traditional finance department. Similarly, new emerging trends for operational excellence can be part of responsibility of a permanent operational excellence department. It may include the traditional quality under the umbrella, or some variation.


Research Report : Sustaining Operational Excellence: Why so hard?


The true operational excellence department/program should have a broad umbrella. In my experience, that gives you a platform to integrate different things and drive a focused execution for the company goals rather that different leaders driving different initiatives and often competing for same resources and same investments. One needs to have a strategic view, that blends with company’s long term and short-term strategy. Lean, six sigma, AGILE, DFSS, Design Thinking, Strategy process, Digital tools/approaches, TPS, Innovation are all different facets of same goal, serve our customers better, make the business more effective, and grow share holder value. In future we may have 10-sigma, or “growth-thinking”, but I believe the core tenants are essentially same, i.e. make the company better, grow top line, make it business effective, delight customers, high integrity and ethics, and make the company a great place to work.





Is it really different or labeled different?

As new tools emerge, new concepts emerge, we should examine if that is really a new thing or a complementary to what we are doing. Depending on that analysis we either integrate to current practice, or accordingly position to impart the new knowledge.


The essence is do not lose the good thing. In a big corporation there is a lot of inertia to change. And once people see there is no focus from leadership, all the good work that is done till-date evaporates very quickly. We all have seen such things over and over again.


Toyota in my opinion, a world class in operational excellence, because the operational excellence is embedded in their culture. Many new tools/approaches have evolved from Toyota. Even the highly used “lean business” concepts are evolved out of Toyota’s lean principles. AGILE is a similar outgrowth of Lean. Toyota may not have used all the statistical tools like six sigma or made lot of noise around six sigma, but the essence was and is always there. The “quality control books” of early 60s, and Deming’s principle of quality control are foundations to many six sigma. In essence six sigma and Toyota’s lean, Deming’s quality, Shewhart’s control charts all stand on same platform of customer centricity, lean, waste elimination, and above all developing systems, and people to advance the company every day.


It is ironic that sometimes C-suite leaders change the slogan to make their own agenda, while recreating a lot of non-value-added work in entire corporation.  A true leader must ask 3 simple question before adapting a completely different theme:


1. Is it really different or labeled different?

2. What does it do in addition to what we have been doing? What is true payback for a new initiative?

3. Is that what we need and is it in sync with strategy of the company?


A true continuous improvement program, has been always customer centered, elimination of waste, making things simpler/leaner, faster to market and making processes more effective to add share holder value.


If we take these to heart, we will adapt different tools as technology advances. We will use more RPA/AI tools to eliminate mundane repetitive work. We will use more digital tools for better communications and end to end analysis. We will use more social media tools for customer understanding. We will use digital tools more to reach customers vis advertisement or sales channels and be more effective. We can target advertisements to segments of customers where we can grow revenue. We can use better communications tools to galvanizing the company to drive customer delight and shareholder value.






Digital and operational excellence goes hand in hand

These digital tools do not take away the basic principles of making tings simpler and effective so we can serve our customers better. They are even more elegant enablers for the operational excellence journey. Making a process simpler only make the digital solution even better.


So digital and operational excellence goes hand in hand to make us serve our customers better.


Many times, great programs fail, as we never have the energy to sustain it. Sustaining is never sexy as starting something new. The key is how to make the good program great, sexier, more current, without losing the essence, while adopting new tools (Ai, RPA, Digital, data Analytics, Big Data etc.) to make the execution faster, better to serve our customers better every day.  An integrative, holistic approach in sync with company strategy is a key to sustaining operational excellence improvements.


Want to learn more? Download the full Report.
Research Report : Sustaining Operational Excellence: Why so hard?


About the Author

Sisir Padhy: Research Report : Sustaining Operational Excellence: Why so hard?Sisir Padhy
Partner, Sudarsun

Sisir joined Verizon in 2011 and is the Vice President of Process Excellence and Innovation. Prior to joining Verizon, Sisir was part of the General Electric Company, where he held several leadership roles at GE Appliances, GE Transportation Systems, Pratt & Whitney, GE Corporate, and GE Aviation, in design, process excellence, e-Business, and strategic marketing. Sisir led the global P&Ls for GE Aircraft Engine and GE Smart Grid Automation businesses. Check out his LinkedIn page.

He has published more than twenty papers in conferences, professional journals and books. In addition, Sisir has chaired many technical conferences and attended executive education at Wharton, Stanford and Harvard Business School. He received his masters in mechanical engineering with specialization in Artificial Intelligence and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. 


The issues in this article are just one of topic areas that are going to be discussed at the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence World Summit & Industry (BTOES19). March 18-22, 2019, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort®

BTOES is the industry’s biggest and best, senior-level, cross-industry gathering of Business Transformation & Operational Excellence industry leaders and senior executives.

It also hosts the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Awards, which showcase globally the most outstanding organizational achievements through the application of Operational Excellence programs.

The summits hosts a number of private forums for C-Level & Global corporate-level leaders as well as business unit heads.

With over 150 speakers, over 100 sessions, 12 Keynotes, 9 Track Themes, 5 parallel tracks, 60+ track sessions, 50 roundtable discussions, 20 Interactive Workshops, 6 Thought Leader Panels, 5 Leaders Boardrooms, 5 co-located events, the Industry Awards Program, Site Visits, 20+ hours of social networking including 2 gala cocktail parties, dinners, numerous group activities, this is the ultimate event to benchmark, network and drive Operational Excellence to the next level.


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BTOES19 Awards


There is a strong focus on Cultural Transformation, Customer Delight, Sustaining an Operational Excellence program, Need for end-to-end Business Transformation, Keeping up with new technologies/impact of digitalization and Leadership Buy-in & Understanding. We dedicated two tracks to advanced technologies, such as AI, Machine Learning, RPA, Predictive Analytics, Blockchain, Cloud infrastructure etc.


The agenda is designed to encourage active meaningful conversations though all day enhanced networking and interaction opportunities, including

  • All-day Refreshment & Themed Breaks

  • 1¼ Hour Hot Breakfast Networking Sessions

  • 1½ Hour Hot Plated Networking Lunches with Topic & Industry Sector focussed tables

  • 1½ Hour Roundtable Sessions by Topic & Industry Sector.

  • Keynote & Themes Panel Sessions

  • Hosted Welcome Receptions from 5.30pm

  • Expanded more lavish Awards Program

  • Newly launched Night Summit for attendees to meet after dinner

For more information or to discuss the summit in more detail please schedule a call below,

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