How tackling operation challenges can fuel business success
It starts with a problem, a challenge, or even a miscommunication. People and businesses are confronted with it every day. Sometimes these issues have clear solutions, but often they are merely symptoms of a larger operational issue.
While it might seem easier to take shortcuts by providing band-aid solutions, always remember there are no shortcuts to success.
Effective leaders must learn to weed out these operational challenges. The easiest way to encourage an organizational culture of constant and sustainable improvements.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”–Charles Darwin
But if you are just beginning down this path, it requires a more systematic analysis and strategy to change – this is where the Focused Energy’s Operations Program comes in.
The FE Operations Program is designed to deliver impact and transformative results by approaching your change initiative as a process rather than an event. We dig out the root cause of your challenges, and work our way up to ensure strategies are sustainable.
Building a healthy organization is a marathon, not a sprint.
As in life, our program is parsed in three stages: crawling, walking, and then running. Focused Energy employs these fundamental steps of life to drive your business towards elevated employee engagement, improved profitability, higher customer satisfaction and increases in revenue.
Step 1 (Assessment): Holding Your Hand As You Crawl
The first step in changing an organization is to assess where it stands today.
According to an industry survey, businesses that leverage data rather than relying on a ‘gut feeling’ to make decisions are 79 percent more likely to succeed. With this in mind, Focused Energy works together with your business to gather observations and share our assessments. What is your organization's mission? Is everyone bought into the mission and goal of your change initiative? How are roles and information shared? What about the level of collaboration and accountability?
It is vital not to rush through this process or limit the assessment. Trying to pinpoint the culprits behind your challenges and underperformance without gathering observations is similar to trying to hit a bullseye across the room with a blindfold – you’ll either miss horribly, or you’re the luckiest person in the world.
An example of how assessment works
Look back at a time when you felt frustrated by inefficiencies in your organization. As an example, let’s assume you initiated a marketing campaign expecting specific measurable outcomes. However, the project just drags on without meeting your expectations – resources have been spent with nothing to show for the investment. The reason behind the inefficiency could range anywhere from employees not understanding the goal of the project to simply not doing the right thing in the right way. If such inefficiencies happen repeatedly, the cost of rework might severely dent your organizational budget or even negatively affect the quality of your products/services. Rather than watching your business crawl further into the drain by not enacting change, why not just crawl towards prosperity with the help of Focused Energy?
Collecting data helps you save valuable time and money. Instead of throwing hundreds of darts while blindfolded until one of them hits the target, why don’t you just remove the hindrance and focus on goal that really matters?
Tracking and reviewing information from your processes allows us to pinpoint performance breakdowns. Take the example of an NFL or Basketball team: If coaches did not gather observations and share assessments about the performance of their players, how could they understand who plays best in a particular position and role? Or more importantly, how can they effectively improve the individual players to make them more competitive as a unit?
As crucial as gathering observations and assessments sounds, it’s useless if you don’t act on it. Data is merely a tool in your arsenal of weapons against business failure. When you compile these observations and identify opportunities for improvement, the walking stage begins.
STEP 2 (Opportunities): Guiding You as You Walk
You’ve successfully gathered all the necessary business observations, what now?
At Focused Energy, we firmly believe that actionable data is nothing more than an unfounded expression. Data, when discovered, analyzed and shared does nothing at all on its own. The real impact is achieved when you apply the observations and assessments you’ve gathered.
The first step towards improving your bottom line from the data collected is identifying opportunities for improvements. Which processes in your organization are responsible for your inefficiencies or challenges, and how can you improve them? Walking towards transformative results under the guide of Focused Energy includes contingency planning, clearly communicating the chain of events, using the right tools at the right time, and knowing what your employees think about it.
Our continuous improvement approach is designed to identify opportunities that can help your business accelerate innovation, reduce costs, and increase profits, among other goals. Opportunities exist all around us, in every workflow, and every job. Organizations that understand the value of opportunities and engage their employees appropriately are able to improve their outcomes and thrive in the competitive business environment.
Here’s the thing: business opinions can lead to great hypotheses, which are the ingredients to a strong and effective business strategy. But this is only possible if you have the right reporting in place – i.e., based on A, I believe B, which will result in C. In our case, the hypotheses refer to the opportunities for improvement. Having a hypothesis that’s based on relevant data collected during the initial “crawling” step allows you to achieve more through a proactive team. Talking of teams: What are their opinions?
“Why is the product development team taking so long to finalize the product?” “People in the marketing department have it easy – always on social media.” If you’ve heard such comments floating around the water cooler, then there might be a collaboration problem in teams. Using the observations we gathered, we can help improve the team and ensure that they focus on what really matters, and in a seamless manner.
We use our continuous improvement approach to capture opportunities, whether they are bottom-up improvements or top-down initiatives. These opportunities are accelerated in our improvement process to ensure your organization sustains momentum.
STEP 3 (Implementation): Act as Pacesetters as You Run
The third step of our operations program is all about implementing the changes and running with them towards impactful results. This stage typically involves processes such as using what we’ve learned to create a baseline, observing best practices, measuring the performance and progress, facilitating clear communication, and recognizing a need to iterate.
If you are a business leader who has experienced a major change program, you’re aware that subpar implementation can break even the best-planned programs. Translating plans into measurable outcomes is not a walk in the park – and many companies fall during the running stage. Well, unless you have “pacesetters” such as Focused Energy to lend their expertise and help you achieve your goals.
Every organization is at risk of transformational leaks at different stages of the change management and implementation process: some initiatives fail to sustain their primary objectives, others fail to provide significant impact on the bottom line, and there are those that are never even done. So what are the determinants of successful change implementation in an organization?
The main reasons behind the ineffective implementation of changes cluster around deployment of resources, prioritization of activities, and organization-wide ownership of the change.
Regarding the latter, keep in mind that change ownership is more than alignment – you might all be rowing in the same boat but with different commitment to the task at hand. For example, let us assume you saw someone stealing a random car in a parking lot: How compelled are you to inform the authorities and follow up on the proceedings? Now assume that it’s your vehicle that’s been stolen: You would take proactive action to recover the car, right? This highlights the need for ownership within the entire workforce. Focused Energy helps you clearly define the owner of each goal and core function of the business.
Under this stage, the opportunities for improvement are aligned with the organizational goals and business vision to ensure results are impactful and transformative.
Our continuous improvement approach attempts to answer the question: Does the initiative deliver measurable impacts? This means determining the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each opportunity identified in the “walking” stage and assessing its end result.
Some KPIs we might look at include upgraded quality, reduced waste, improved safety, enhanced customer satisfaction, lowered costs, and improved employee engagement, to name a few.
Measuring the value of the initiatives and process also helps us determine whether it’s better to tweak a process or initiate a drastic change – whatever works best for your company.
This may be the last step in the process but it is hardly the end of your journey toward an effective and healthy organization. Throughout our program, we build actions, accountability and measures that foster continuous improvement and give organizations the tools to tackle issues in the future.