The Executive Operational Excellence (ExOpEx) program empowers senior leaders to build a sustainable competitive edge through world-class operations while advancing their careers.
Embark on a transformative journey with Executive Operational Excellence, where strategic prowess meets operational excellence. Designed exclusively for senior executives, this program is your gateway to cultivating a resilient competitive advantage, elevating your leadership acumen, and fueling both professional and organizational triumphs. Join a league of visionaries committed to shaping the future of success through unparalleled operational mastery. It’s not just a program; it’s your key to ascending to new heights of senior leadership.
Cases, when to use it:
- Ineffective OpEx approach
- Operational underperformance
- Dissatisfied customers, investors, employees
Clients, for whom it is:
- Business leaders (CEO, COO, CFO, CRO)
- Transformation and turnaround champions
- Managers of large lines, regions, functions
Process, how it works:
- 12 learning modules and implementation sprints
- 6-month program to execute 2 modules per month
- Coaching support throughout the program
Benefits, what to gain:
- Competitive edge, operational efficiency
- Engaged employees, satisfied customers
- Enhanced skills and knowledge, personal growth
Introduction and Overview
Program, Purpose, Principles
Operational Excellence (OpEx) plays a pivotal role in enhancing a business’s competitiveness by elevating efficiency, reducing expenses, enhancing quality, and fostering innovation. By streamlining processes and promptly addressing customer demands, companies gain a significant advantage in the fiercely competitive market. Moreover, OpEx also helps in mitigating risks and fortifying resilience, ensuring sustained success irrespective of whether a company is involved in producing things, handling transactions, or caring about patients.
Journey to Excellence
OpEx is more than a buzzword; it’s a philosophy embraced by leading organizations to drive consistency, growth, and sustainability through unwavering commitment to excellence. By integrating sustainable change into their culture and practices, companies achieve operational breakthroughs. Key principles include quality commitment, leadership engagement, employee involvement, seamless teamwork, strategic focus, customer value, agile execution, process excellence, and vision alignment. Embracing these elements unlocks extraordinary short-term results and fosters a sustainable competitive advantage through OpEx.
Teamwork and Culture
Effective teamwork is imperative for operational excellence. Organizations must foster a culture of collaboration, where individuals work synergistically towards common goals. This entails fostering open communication, sharing knowledge, and encouraging cross-functional collaboration. A culture of continuous improvement must permeate the organization, empowering employees to proactively identify opportunities for enhancement and take ownership of their work.
Committed Leadership and Performance Management
Leadership plays a pivotal role in driving operational excellence. Committed leaders provide a clear vision, set high expectations, and lead by example in their dedication to ongoing improvement. They establish robust performance management systems that align individual and team goals with the organization’s overarching objectives. Through regular feedback, coaching, and recognition, leaders inspire employees to strive for excellence and actively contribute to the organization’s success.
Continuous Improvement and Process Excellence
Continuous improvement lies at the heart of operational excellence. Organizations must establish structured methodologies such as Agile Lean Six Sigma (ALSS) to systematically identify and eliminate waste, variability, and complexity, while streamlining processes and drive efficiency. By empowering employees to suggest improvements and providing them with the necessary tools and resources, organizations tap into a valuable wellspring of knowledge and innovation.
Risk Mitigation and Quality Management
Organizational Structure and Alignment
An effective organizational structure is vital for operational excellence, facilitating clear communication channels, streamlined decision-making processes, and individual accountability. Departments and teams must be aligned to work seamlessly together, breaking down silos and fostering cross-functional collaboration. Furthermore, the organizational structure must be closely aligned with the organization’s vision and mission, ensuring that all efforts contribute cohesively to the overarching strategic goals.
The Four Pillars of Excellence
Wholeheartedly adopting the specific elements of OpEx establishes a robust foundation for long-term success. Operational excellence empowers organizations to streamline processes, provide exceptional value to customers, proactively address risks, and swiftly adapt to evolving market conditions. By striving for excellence, organizations can set themselves apart, foster sustainable growth, and sustain a competitive edge in today’s dynamic business environment. OpEx transcends being a mere buzzword; it is the pathway to lasting success.
Operational Excellence Pioneers
The concept of OpEx has many fathers; it evolved over time as organizations have sought to improve their operations and drive greater efficiency and productivity. The history of OpEx can be traced back to the early 20th century when organizations began to focus on standardizing processes to drive greater consistency, while reducing waste, variability, and unevenness – the 3 great losses.
History of Operational Excellence
Prior to industrialization, craftsmen were responsible for overseeing every aspect of production or service, leading to difficulties such as fluctuating results, inconsistent output, and quality dependent on individual skills, as illustrated by the machine shop example below. However, OpEx revolutionized these practices, enhancing efficiency and reliability across all crafts and industries.
The start of industrialization brought a transformative period in history, shifting from traditional craftsmanship to mechanized production. Key changes included specialized tasks at workstations, enhancing efficiency and productivity. Standardization ensured uniform quality, revolutionizing manufacturing, and paving the way for mass production and the modern industrial era.
One of the pioneers of the OpEx movement was Henry Ford, who implemented the assembly line process in his automobile factory in the early 1900s. This revolutionary process allowed Ford to produce cars more quickly and at a lower cost, ultimately making automobiles more accessible to the public.
During World War II, the Japanese developed the Toyota Production System (TPS) as a response to the scarcity of resources and the need for greater efficiency. The TPS emphasized the elimination of waste, continuous improvement, and a focus on delivering value to customers. This system became the foundation of what is now known as Lean Manufacturing.
In the 1980s, the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement gained popularity in the United States. TQM focused on improving quality by involving all employees in the process, and it also emphasized the importance of customer satisfaction.
In the 1990s, Six Sigma was developed by Motorola to improve quality and reduce defects in manufacturing processes. Six Sigma uses statistical methods to identify and eliminate variations in processes, resulting in greater consistency and quality.
In the early 2000s, the OpEx movement began to shift away from a focus solely on manufacturing and into other areas of business, such as healthcare, banking, education, hospitality, and service industries. This broader approach to OpEx emphasized the importance of process improvement in all aspects of a business, including customer service, finance, and human resources.
Fast Forward: 21st Century
Today, virtually all leading companies have made operational excellence part of their strategies for improving agility and productivity. Companies across industries, from manufacturing to healthcare to finance, have adopted OpEx principles to drive continuous improvement and create a culture of excellence.
In conclusion, the history of OpEx is a story of organizations seeking to improve their operations through a variety of methodologies and approaches, which includes Lean, Agile, and Six Sigma. Although the specific methods and tools have evolved over time, the goal of OpEx remains the same: to systematically increase agility, efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction by continuously improving processes without limiting itself to the use of a single methodology or toolbox.
Today, OpEx is widely used in various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, finance, and services. Many organizations have made it central to their strategy, and methodologies such as Lean, Agile, Six Sigma, TQM, and CI have become popular frameworks to implement OpEx. The adoption of OpEx has led to significant improvements in businesses, making them more competitive, regardless in which sector or region they operate. Even small companies in emerging markets have successfully deployed OpEx principles in their operation, such as a small food-shop in Mexico is using a bicycle rim to hold customer orders in the sequence they are received and synchronize the restaurant with the kitchen. One turn of the rim means that all customers have been served, which must be kept under five minutes to fulfill the service promise and keep their customers happy.
Another challenge is the significant investment required in training, technology, and infrastructure. This can be a barrier for organizations operating in firefighting mode, where immediate issues take precedence over long-term investments. However, investing in OpEx can bring significant long-term benefits, including increased productivity, improved quality, and profitability. Therefore, it is always critical to take a longer-term perspective and look not only at the direct cost savings, but also at the increased market potential from increased agility, responding faster to customer needs than competitors do.
Organizations that have successfully implemented OpEx have realized many benefits. For instance, it has improved employee engagement and motivation by empowering employees to identify and solve problems in their work processes. This approach contrasts with a command-and-control style, where employees feel driven and controlled by the system. OpEx has also led to increased operational agility and efficiency, reducing lead times, costs, and increasing revenue, which has ultimately improved the bottom line. From my personal experience, most employees support OpEx once they have experienced how it works, and how it helps them to perform their tasks better and faster.
In conclusion, OpEx is a management philosophy and strategy that has become widely recognized across various industries. While deploying OpEx comes with challenges such as resistance to change and significant investments, the benefits realized by organizations that successfully implement it are numerous. By improving productivity, reducing waste, enhancing quality, and increasing profitability, OpEx helps organizations stay competitive in a rapidly changing global marketplace. It is not surprising that most organizations that adopt OpEx never look back, but rather increase the scope and scale of the program to tackle an even greater part of their value chain, pursuing Business Excellence by additionally including commercial, innovation, finance.
To successfully initiate the OpEx journey, it is helpful to assess the current situation by answering the following 10 key questions:
- Condition: Is everything in order, and is everyone satisfied with the current state of affairs?
- Problem: What specific problem needs to be solved, what goal must be achieved, and what gap requires closing?
- Effects: What benefits will be realized if the problem is solved, and what consequences might arise if it is ignored?
- Leadership: Has a clear vision been established, indicating where the team should be heading and why?
- Alignment: Is there a shared unity within the team concerning the direction, purpose, and approach?
- Resourcing: Are sufficient time, staff, and budget allocated to ensure a successful outcome?
- Plan: Is there a well-defined roadmap in place, complete with milestones and clear responsibilities?
- Skills: Are team members adequately trained and capable of effectively executing the program?
- Incentives: Is there a compelling reason for everyone to actively engage and embrace change?
- Communication: Are all team members well-informed, enabling them to actively participate and contribute?
The Operational Excellence program will systematically address all 10 points to bring your team and operation to the next level.
One of the key trends driving the future of operational excellence is digitalization. The proliferation of digital technologies has transformed the way businesses operate, and OpEx is no exception. With the advent of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, and the internet of things (IOT), businesses now have unprecedented access to data and insights that can help them optimize their operations. This data-driven approach to OpEx is expected to become even more widespread in the future, as more and more businesses leverage digital tools to gain a competitive advantage. Even small businesses today can take advantage of Digital-OpEx by using free, off-the-shelf tools, such as GoogleSheets, connected to wireless sensors linked to cameras that use intelligent image analysis and pattern recognition to streamline processes and manage performance.
Another trend that is shaping the future of operational excellence. As consumers become increasingly concerned about environmental and social issues, businesses are under pressure to operate in a more sustainable and responsible manner. OpEx can help companies achieve this by identifying and eliminating waste, reducing energy consumption, and improving the efficiency of their operations. In the future, we can expect to see a greater emphasis on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects as core components of OpEx.
The rise of agile and flexible work practices is another trend that is likely to impact the future of operational excellence. As remote work becomes more common and businesses seek to become more adaptable to changing market conditions, OpEx will need to evolve to accommodate these new ways of working, supporting capacity-resource planning (CRP) and skill-building and load leveling of the workforce. This may involve adopting more Agile and Lean methodologies, and investing in digital tools that facilitate collaboration and remote work.
The future of operational excellence will be profoundly influenced by an array of ongoing technological advancements. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will play a pivotal role by enhancing data analysis, predictive maintenance, and process optimization, enabling data-driven decision-making and streamlined operations. Concurrently, the Internet of Things (IoT) will provide real-time insights into various operational aspects like equipment performance, supply chain logistics, and inventory management, facilitating proactive maintenance and improved productivity. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will further revolutionize operational excellence by automating repetitive tasks with software robots, reducing errors, and freeing up resources for more strategic activities, resulting in increased efficiency and cost savings. Leveraging Big Data and Analytics will empower companies to optimize operations across various areas, from supply chain management to customer service. Cloud Computing will play a significant role in implementing OpEx initiatives across multiple locations, fostering real-time collaboration, scalability, flexibility, and accessibility. Blockchain technology will enhance transparency and trust in supply chain operations, ensuring the traceability and authenticity of products and transactions. Additionally, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will be pivotal in employee training, visualizing complex processes, and efficient troubleshooting, thereby fostering faster learning and problem-solving. The emergence of 5G+ Connectivity will support real-time data transmission, facilitating quicker decision-making and remote monitoring of operations. Moreover, the integration of Autonomous Vehicles and Drones will optimize transportation and logistics, leading to reduced delivery times and increased overall efficiency. The concept of Digital Twins, creating virtual replicas of physical assets or processes, will enable simulations, analysis, and optimization without disrupting actual operations. Effectively incorporating these technological advancements into their operations will provide businesses with a competitive edge, fundamentally transforming operational excellence and positioning them for future success.
As we look ahead to the future of operational excellence, it is important to remember that this is not just a buzzword or a passing trend. It is a philosophy that has stood the test of time and has helped countless businesses achieve breakthrough objectives, massive productivity gains, and sustainable success. Whether it is through digitalization, sustainability, technology, or some other means, the future of OpEx is bright, and businesses that embrace this philosophy will be well positioned to thrive in the years to come. The picture below shows a team in Sao Paulo, Brazil, celebrating their journey to become regional OpEx champions. This is a testament to the potential and rewards that await those who use Operational Excellence in their endeavors to drive performance and advance careers.
Program Curriculum: 12 Steps on the Path to Operational Excellence
The corporate training program consists of 12 modules, implementing the Operational Excellence business process during a six-month period, at a pace of two modules per month. Regular workshops, progress reviews, and coaching sessions ensure knowledge is transferred, the team is engaged, skills are applied, improvements implemented, and measurable progress is achieved.
- Program Charter: Establish a solid foundation by crafting a clear program charter. Learn to drive your organization towards operational excellence by creating a compelling vision, developing a persuasive business case, and fostering collaboration within a dynamic core team.
- Strategic Alignment: Understand and align the needs of stakeholders with the project’s mission. Identify the voice of the customer, voice of the business, and voice of the employees to ensure shared goals and effective collaboration.
- Problem Statement: Define the problem to solve by creating a concise and clear problem statement. Learn to identify the success metric, baseline, and performance gap, ensuring everyone remains focused on the same goal.
- Causal Analysis: Dive into the roots of problems with causal analysis. Understand the relationships between variables, identify direct and contributing causes, and develop strategies for improvement.
- Solution Development: Prioritize countermeasures and develop practical solutions considering operational constraints. Assess the probability of success, risks, stability, and feasibility, creating a comprehensive plan for implementation.
- Pilot Study: Test potential solutions on a smaller scale in a controlled environment before full-scale implementation. Learn to validate concepts, identify potential issues, and optimize solutions through iterative testing.
- Solution Roadmap: Develop a detailed plan outlining goals, milestones, and the most effective path to achieve desired outcomes. Ensure alignment and clarity in tasks, responsibilities, and timelines.
- Capability Building: Identify skill gaps, develop training plans, and motivate teams to acquire new skills essential for implementing change. Foster a mindset shift and equip team members with the skills needed for the new structure.
- Solution Implementation: Execute the solution effectively by establishing transparency, clear communication, and monitoring progress. Overcome obstacles, celebrate successes, and establish feedback loops for continuous improvement.
- Solution Standard: Standardize the new way of working to ensure consistency, efficiency, and sustainability. Develop clear procedures, embed them in the organization, and create a foundation for continuous improvement.
- Impact Assessment: Evaluate the impact of the project on operational and financial levels. Analyze key indicators, assess financial benefits, and ensure that the project delivers the intended outcomes.
- Learning Leverage: Practice Yokoten by sharing best practices, knowledge, and ideas across different areas of the organization. Learn to leverage lessons learned for continuous improvement and greater success.
This program is not just about training; it’s a roadmap to operational excellence. Equip your team with the tools and strategies they need to drive successful outcomes, enhance efficiency, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. Are you ready to elevate your organization to new heights?