Were you profitable last year?
During a recent conversation with a CFO, I asked whether the organization was profitable and what programs he expected would drive performance improvement in the coming calendar year. With a twinkle in his eye, he laughed and said,
Jack, the reports tell me we’re in the black, but I don’t know how. Walking these halls, I see opportunities to improve everywhere. I get the numbers; I simply don’t believe them. The fact is, I’m drowning in data, but I have no information. You want to talk about performance? First, tell me, truthfully, whether I should have any faith in what we are measuring. Then we can talk about performance improvement.
The Need for Transparency
The underlying issue here is that change management without accurate, timely information is difficult to implement and taxing to maintain. The reasons are myriad, though an overabundance of disparate data points from multiple sources often provides clouded insight into ongoing operations. The old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” has merit. Executives running organizations today are in need of simple, but powerful, reporting tools providing transparency to their organization’s operations. From that, a systematic approach for creating excellence in any organization is possible.
At the risk of over-simplifying the steps of a successful change effort, there really exist only three:
1) Clarify the problem
2) “De-risk” and simplify the change effort
3) Hardwire your organization for excellence
Working with a proven methodology permits effective identification and prioritization of high-value opportunities to be implemented in the shortest time while minimizing organizational risk. It also permits and promotes organizational transformation, yielding a culture striving toward excellence.
Attributes of Organizational Excellence
Volumes have been written on the leadership aptitudes required to build successful organizations. Unfortunately, far less has been said helping organizations migrate from mediocrity to excellence and the necessary organizational attributes to be successful. Following are a number that we have found to be key. Many organizations have developed these capabilities to some degree. Those with a significant competitive advantage excel in most areas.
Strategic Operations Planning: You change your present by changing your future. Invest the time and energy into understanding not only the supply of workspace or infrastructure, but also the demand for it as defined by your clinical or business practices. Defining these is important. What’s happening? Why is the work being performed? Why there? What are the steps immediately before and after? Who are the customers of the work product produced? Are these customers satisfied? If you understand the demand for workspace you can more effectively manage the supply of it.
Engaged & Informed Teams: Successful organizations are lead by actively involved Teams at all levels of an organization. Senior Leadership provides the vision. Team leaders ultimately execute. This critical integration of Executive and Operational Teams yields competitive advantage. Ensuring that these Teams are engaged early while building consensus and informed as the “3 Whys” ensures continued collaboration toward a common goal.
Communication Discipline: Dramatic change is often a progression of daily steps from mediocrity to excellence. Communication by Management includes reinforcing the need for change, celebrating successes and identifying the existing habits to be changed and rebuilt through the implementation of new methodologies and tools. A high performance organization begins to develop with strong daily communication by Management with the most effective communication medium being “rounding” by the Executive Management Team.
Deep Competency in Change Agents: All business transformations require individuals that are possess a deep understanding of the organization and the need for change. These will be your champions. These individuals must be taught to be fair, though firm, in pursuing excellence.
Efficient & Transparent Processes: Lean principles deliver highly efficient operations at lower cost and improved productivity. The development of small simple assets creates low cost through improved flow and enhanced capacity, not necessarily volume. Improved organization and transparency is driven through Kaizen events or Rapid Response Teams. From these efforts, processes change to work cells, individuals become teams, and services evolve into value streams.
Measuring for Performance: Organizations, like people, become what they think about all day long. If you wish to hardwire for excellence, work toward creating transparency and deep understanding at all levels of the organization. Establish one core metric that defines the performance of the organization at its core competency. Being focused on delivering clearly defined and compelling value to all customers (internal and external) will yield rapid change and high performance Teams consistently over-achieving their goals.
Managing for Excellence: Manage the process of transformation at Strategic, Operational and Tactical levels consistently and often. Review your performance improvement initiatives quarterly against the strategic direction of the organization. Your performance objectives are generally written in stone, but operational realities evolve. Re-think what isn’t working and adapt to changing circumstances. Utilize tollgates or periodic reviews to address progress to objectives with Team leaders. This provides the opportunity to give and receive feedback, address shortcomings and eliminate obstacles together. These assessments, in turn, provide the Executive Management Team feedback and help structure the transformation process.
Organizations desiring enduring transformation require leaders that can envision a future state, get the right people “on the bus” and then effectively build consensus in their Teams in promoting its successful implementation. Mitigating the risk of change and eliminating impediments requires actionable information and the competency to execute effectively.
Does your organization possess these traits?
For additional information contact:
Black Diamond Transformation, LLC
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