Johan Southey
December 11, 2018

The Awakening

Johan Southey 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 download 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.


Research report front cover


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 The Awakening

“The key challenge facing Operational Excellence programs remains squarely around changing & improving company culture, with over 53.1% citing it as their top critical challenge.”


Culture is seen as a physical manifestation of the hidden mind-sets and the worldviews in the workplace. Culture, as simply put by Vijay Bajaj is “shared values and how things get done around here, it is how your people think, believe, act, and feel.”  Leader’s thus model and shape culture by what they allow and what they consider as acceptable behaviour in the workplace. Click here to read the full Survey Report 2018/19. 




The Awakening

The encouraging fact of the report is that the majority of the respondents consists of CEO’s, VP’s and Directors, all whom should be playing a significant role in the shaping of organizational cultural, leading the change efforts and obtaining buy-in,  identified cultural change as the critical challenge. This awareness signals a level of awakening that is predicted in the Ackerman and Andersons (2001) change management model. Ackerman and Anderson seeks to describe the levels of awaking during transformational change efforts. It states that it is only at the 4th level, that leaders start to realise that the real change that is required, is from themselves.


On closer examination this model also holds true on a macro level for the changes experienced in the global Organizational Excellence journey the past few decades. Click here to read more Articles on The Global State of Operational Excellence: Critical Challenges & Future Trends - Research Report 2018/19.


The Awakening


When Mass production techniques no longer could satisfy the increasing customer demand for flexibility and responsiveness Industry realised change was needed. (Level 1) The change required was not simple, the end destination of the change was not known and did not and could not follow simple Project management rules. Whether practitioners and line managers and recognised the change as such is immaterial. The change correctly identified would have to be defined as transformational. (Level 2) The incorrect identification of the change type would only have contributed to the change failure statistics. The rise of new techniques and strategies such as 6-Sigma, Lean and Operational Excellence is living proof that the older models were not providing the required results and new ways had to developed. (Level 3) The rising awareness and awakening of importance of the cultural and behavioural aspects in Operational Excellence efforts signal clearly that we are currently entering the final level of awakening.


The Awakening




The Journey

The worlds created by Henry Ford and Fredrick Taylor during the Industrial Revolution has systemically been replaced by the processes maturing under the banner of Operational Excellence. The industrial mind-sets rooted in scarcity, separateness and the exclusion of internal consciousness of employees has failed to flourish in the soil of the new world order of frictionless customer experiences and flexibility. The Industrial mind-set considered man to be an extension of machines and actively discounted the parts that made us human. The popular management mantra of “If you don’t measure it, you cannot manage it” falls short when it comes to emotions such as grief, anger, excitement and disappointment.


Operational Excellence as a management philosophy has incrementally matured the past 4 decades to include systems such as JIT, Toyota Production Systems, Lean Manufacturing, Theory of Constraints and 6-Sigma. Despite the best attempts by many; the success rate and sustainability of the implementations has failed to mature at a similar rate.  The dismal success rate led to the proliferation of even more different tools and techniques. The shortcomings could be attributed to the fact that the tools that ushered in the new order was only addressing half of the problem. Most of the attempts failed to address to a crucial component of work: The human factor. Humans want to be led and not managed. The failure to validate the internal reality of humans as a left-over remnant of the Industrial mind-set has remained the critical challenge for most organizations to address.


The ever present need for change is ironically also relevant to the theory of change management. Research by thought leaders such as Mann in his 2009 paper ”Leadership: The missing link identified the lack of leadership and employee engagement as instrumental to the failures.  This rising awareness of the impact of leadership and cultural behaviours is highlighted by the many responses in this report. More and more research papers has since been submitted in a similar line of enquiry and echoes the primary findings of this 2018 report. Brian Reffell summates the essence of this report succinctly by his statement: “underpinning the report at every stage is people”.  


The findings of Schumacher in Good Work (1979) that Industrialism’s focus is to increase productivity and not to make work more satisfying” has come home to roost in the repeated failures of most of the earlier attempts at Operational Excellence. The awareness that people are the centre of process and organizations are becoming ever more apparent and apparent. As noted by a respondent in this survey: “Employee engagement is important for implementing and sustain the change. We want to do better in this area”. Other than most machines, people bring their emotions, mind-set and behaviours to work, something that the Industrial Mind-set failed to recognise.




The Road Ahead

The final frontier of Operational Excellence thus has to include programs to address and rectify the industrial mind-set and strive towards the emerging mind-sets of causative consciousness, abundance, wholeness and continuity. As the building blocks of culture and behaviour, Mind-sets and worldviews would provide us with the leverage to create an inclusive and empowered workplace.


Attempts to articulate the required culture, leadership and employee behaviours in line with the emerging mind-sets will go a long way to address the issues highlighted as the core of the 2018 report. By fulfilling the requirements of the new way of work and thinking we are could fulfil our real purpose and that is to make the make the world a better place for all. 


Want to learn more? Download the full Report.
The Awakening


About the Author

Johan Southey : The AwakeningJohan Southey
Manufacturing Excellence Manager at Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (International Division)

Johan has a keen interest in leadership behaviour and mind-sets and the resultant impact that it has on the success of organisations. I am fascinated by the link between a legitmate leadership culture and the sustainability of World Class Manufacturing interventions which was why I chose to research it as the subject of my MBA dissertation. Check out his LinkedIn page.

His specialties are:

Lean Manufacturing
Production and Capacity planning 
Facility layout and Labour allocation planning
Cost accounting/ Overhead recovery models in Manufacturing environments
ERP/MRP and MES system design and implementation
Leadership development and performance managementContinuous Improvement cultures
Health and Safety


List of sources

  1. Ackerman, D. & Ackerman Anderson, L.S. 2001. Beyond change management: How to achieve breakthrough results through conscious change leadership. San Francisco: Pfeifer.

  2. Mann, D. 2009. The missing link: Lean leadership. Frontiers of Health Service Management, 26(1), 39-42.

  3. Schumacher, EF. 1979. Good Work Abacus, Harper and Row. New York



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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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

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