The most common challenges faced by leaders in the field of Operational Excellence
Dean Simpson, Senior Consultant at Renault-Nissan Consulting highlights common challenges faced by Operational Excellence leaders.
Today, organisations are facing many challenges when it comes to trying to deploy – or sometimes redeploy – an operational excellence improvement programme.
Any change management initiative requires a number of different elements to all chime together in order for successful results to be realised. However, so much of this success depends on how change is implemented, sustained and utilised by the organisation.
Change Is the only constant
Change is perhaps the only constant that most companies will experience. Today, external forces such as new technologies and digital innovations are accelerating change like never before, causing big disruptions in practically all industries and markets. Innovative new start-ups no longer face major barriers to entry, creating an ever-growing army of competition determined and able to ‘shake up’ how things are done, piling huge pressure onto existing companies to transform if they are to continue to compete.
Increased digitisation and technology shifts – such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), machine learning, IoT (Internet of Things), cloud computing, big data analytics, advanced robotics, mobile apps and 3D printing – are all affecting how today’s companies must operate.
Such advances enable organisations to take giant leaps forward in terms of productivity improvement. However, at the same time, leaders are consequently having to rethink their operations from end to end, including how to incorporate digitisation and new technologies into the value chain – be it through the use of big data science in marketing and customer operations, or 3D printing in manufacturing plants.
As such and as these factors force changes across whole industries, organisations must adapt to them internally if they are to continue to forge a path towards operational excellence.
Indeed, operational excellence is a key attribute of leading companies in any industry. Fostering a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, successfully executing an operational excellence strategy model ensures that organisations are able to keep to pace with change, if not become industry trailblazers.
Operationally excellent companies are able to remain nimble and respond to change as they develop end-to-end global operating strategies that take charge of innovations and ensure profitable growth.
However, there are of course a number of challenges that face leaders in the field of operational excellence today – both at the deployment stage, and further down the line.
Most Common Operational Excellence Challenges
Resistance to change
Operational excellence can only be truly achieved when it has the support, understanding and enthusiasm of everyone involved. However, it is often the case that the most significant barriers standing in the way of realising operational excellence aren’t structural or technological, but human.
Human resistance to change can be hugely detrimental to a business’ operational excellence strategy model – and the level of resistance often increases with the seniority of staff members, as managers can feel threatened even by the mere suggestion that the way in which they are managing their department and their people could be improved.
However, such resistance typically stems from a simple fear of the unknown. To combat this, operational excellence leaders should provide tangible examples of how internal changes – even small changes – can result in huge wins for the company over time. It is only by getting whole teams bought-in, engaged and positive about the path forward will important changes ever be meaningfully implemented and absorbed into company culture – but it all begins with onboarding managers.
Closing communication gaps
Once you’ve got all of the organisation’s members bought-in, a common operational excellence challenge comes in the form of closing communication gaps.
We emphasise the word ‘closing’, because communication gaps must be fully closed if operational excellence is to be achieved, and not simply ‘bridged’.
This is because it’s imperative that all stakeholders in an organisation have sufficient pathways and processes that enable consistent communication at all stages of growth. Operational excellence means committing to principles of continuous improvement, and so communications need to be just as continuous.
As you map out the various stages of your change programme on your road to operational excellence, your communications strategy should strive to keep everyone informed of progress, upcoming initiatives, and even failures. Keeping employees continuously in the loop will avoid conjecture or any drop in team morale, and will serve to empower all individuals and ensure they feel valued.
Deploy a system for communication management that includes key messages, timings, delivery methods, communication channels, and who’s responsible for handling communications both up and down the ladder.
Enabling and maintaining business agility
Another common operational excellence challenge is business agility.
Many organisations manage to successfully execute individually agile projects, and even agile business analysis – but in order for operational excellence to be achieved, the whole business must be agile enough to cope with changes, failures and market evolutions as and when they occur.
An agile business won’t just react to what’s broken or spend its time chasing the next big thing. Nor will its managers be devoting resources to constantly putting out fires, for this will disable them from attending to the bigger picture.
Indeed, true business agility is only realised when you are able to deploy changes in policies and day-to-day activities as fast as you are able to analyse the impacts of these changes and assess whether they are good for business or not. This type of agility will lead you well on the way towards a culture of continuous improvement, with operational excellence not far behind.
Overcome Your Operational Excellence Challenges with Renault-Nissan Consulting
Breaking down the barriers to operational excellence means deploying a strong strategy for realising a culture of continuous improvement across the whole organisation. It means educating managers and team members on the benefits of embracing change, enabling better communications, and introducing processes that will lead to real business agility.
At Renault-Nissan Consulting, we identify the changes required in your organisation to ensure that it works more efficiently and effectively from top to bottom, and implement the right tools and methods for ongoing operational excellence success.
With 28 years’ experience and 300 consultants working in a range of sectors, become more successful with Renault-Nissan Consulting and reap the benefits of world-class operational excellence. Get in touch today to find out more about our Operational Excellence Consulting Services.