Vijay Bajaj
June 04, 2019

Vijay Bajaj, Founder & CEO, BTOES. Opening Keynote on Critical Challenges within Operational Excellence


BTOES 2019 is a conference that represents the shifting landscape of Operational Excellence & End-to-End Business Transformation. A landscape incorporating the numerous transformation drivers such as a focus on customer delight, a more competitive environment, and the impact of advanced technologies along the whole value chain.
But let's not forget one thing, in our Operational Excellence world, regardless of digitalization and advanced technologies, it is not the machines doing the work, nor the processes doing the work, but the people doing the work.
It is we who make the different processes and parts work well together.
Recently we produced a research report and I want to share some of the results with you.
The key challenge facing Operational Excellence programs remains squarely around changing and improving the company culture, with 53.1% citing it as their top critical challenge. 
This makes sense as cultural transformation, changing mindsets and behaviours, is the hardest thing to do, and consequently it is the greatest progress limiter. 
As executives it is our biggest challenge, it is where we need to focus our time, but yet we don’t, we focus on processes and tools because it’s more predictable, functional and controllable.
Instead, we need to double our efforts and invest and focus energy on our people, as only they can tell us where to fix, simplify, and streamline the processes.
This is the key to making deep-rooted process changes required to take advantage of digitization, automation and advanced technologies. Results are the output of a company, and culture is the major input and the key driver to an enterprise-wide Operational Excellence deployment program
But as we all know, it all starts with good leadership. 23.2% of respondents cited leadership buy-in and understanding as their top critical challenge. The absence of leadership buy-in is considered a major cause for failure in operational excellence programs. Having a strong Global Leader at the corporate-level who is banging the drum for the VP and Directors in the business and functional units is critical to ensuring the resources are in place to execute sustainable Operational Excellence projects
Everyone here who has faced this knows that without buy-in there will be no role models, little budget or resources and no commitment to a long-term program.
Operational excellence needs to be viewed as a critical strategic weapon by the executive leadership teams. It needs this level of buy-in and understanding for any organization to truly strive for and deliver end-to-end business transformation and sustainable adoption in normal business activities.
Driving an end-to-end Business Transformation program came in 3rd as the biggest challenge for 30.7% of respondents, which if you take a moment to think about it makes complete sense. If process re-engineering is not end-to-end, it will always be sub-optimal. Disparate continuous improvement efforts do not provide meaningful impact. The key is to bring together all relevant functions across the organization and maximise collaboration, and design systems to achieve flow between the relevant departments across the functional value stream.
The 4th biggest challenge for respondents was the willingness to embrace new technologies, a challenge for 28.5% of respondents.
I know what I am going to say now may be unpopular, but part of the solution is for organizations to evaluate current employees for digital knowledge and a more flexible, rapid decision-making, agile mindset. Operational Excellence project professionals need to be ready, and happy to embrace new advanced digital technologies and work with or are themselves software designers, agile scrum masters, robotic process automation specialists, or machine-learning engineers.
But what is this all for.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the age of Customer Delight.
Businesses need to ensure all their policies and procedures are focused on a seamless customer experience, reviewing their whole organization including their traditional sales and marketing departments to ensure they are re-engineered to focus on delight. 
Before your product had to be 10 times better than the competition, now it is your customer experience that has to be 10 times lighter than the competition.
As one respondent put it “Thanks to companies such as Amazon and Apple, customers now expect every organization to deliver products and services as swiftly, with the same seamless user experience”
Operational excellence professionals need to focus on redesigning a low-friction customer experience, where there are minimal handoffs between people and departments. Customer delight, fuels word of mouth, in particular with the amplification of social media, today it is where the biggest ROI will be generated.

Want to learn more? Download the full Report.


About the Author

Vijay BajajVijay Bajaj, Founder and CEO of BTOES has founded, built and sold two successful market-leading businesses. The first in London, UK in the office equipment distribution sector, which he launched in 1991 and sold to Ingram Micro in 1999, after which he took a year off and traveled around India with his wife. The second headquartered out of Chicago, IL, in the large-scale commercial B2B conference sector, which was launched in 2001 and sold in 2012.

In 2012 he retired to spend time with family and focus on meditation.

In 2015 he was looking for the next challenge and founded and is currently CEO of the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence World Summit & Industry Awards (BTOES), which has become the largest senior-level cross-industry event within the sector,, and a professional online content platform for senior-level executives involved in continuous improvement, which has grown to over 188,000 subscribers.

He is also an angel investor, mentor, and board advisor.

Vijay lives in Stanmore, Middlesex, UK, with his wife Reshma, son Armaan, and labrador Archie.

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