Organizational Excellence Consists of Doing MANY Right Things Correctly.
Let’s face it there are no shortcuts when it comes to organizational excellence. It is similar to a jigsaw puzzle. If you are missing just one piece you miss completing the big picture. If you have the wrong piece in the wrong place you also will not achieve your best performance.
With the myriad of different management techniques and quality improvement tools/ methods that we see and hear about it is easy to think that there is a “magic pill” that will cure our ills. Unfortunately cherry picking a “tool of the month” for implementation in itself does not guarantee improvement in terms of making large improvements in overall performance. Why you ask? In my experience there are many great tools and techniques out there but there are usually many contributing factors that lead to poor organizational performance. It is usually not just one factor (again for overall organizational performance).
It is very similar to good health and fitness. Many folks want the magic diet pill or exercise equipment that will cure our weight or health problems. To be effective we typically must attack it from many different areas. For example: to use a health related example (since most can relate) of needing to lose a few pounds, decrease our body fat to lean tissue ratio. Merely cutting back on caloric intake by itself is not the most effective means. We should also look at weight bearing and cardiovascular exercise, improving what we eat and in some cases working on our mental processes of how we view diet and exercise. In my experience and opinion improving organizational excellence/ performance must be handled in an approach as well that looks at the many involved factors.
Here is a brief list (not all inclusive by any means as much depends on the organization) of some typical areas that must be looked at:
1) Goal Alignment. Review or develop your driving vision and top level goals for the organization. All other goals and objectives that you have must be in support of this. Many times we may have conflicting goals. Goal alignment is crucial.
2) Define the areas where performance is not meeting expectations. Do not adjust the goal to meet performance. This happens often where management lowers expectations after numerous attempts to reach specific goals unsuccessfully. Example – raising product scrap percentage generated to xx % after not being able to solve the process issues causing them. Performance expectations will drive performance. Example – if we expect and accept that we will be overweight, then we will)
3) Use true root cause analysis to determine why the performance gaps exist. Do not assume that it will be just one cause. As with product quality issues, there are typically many related/ contributing causes. There are many root cause methods and the intent of this blog article is not to get into them as there are many good books on the market for this. I am a firm believer however that most of your time spent should be on the data gathering portion. This will ensure that your team has a thorough understanding of the problems. It also prevents working on the wrong problem.
4) Make sure that the right team is in place to achieve organizational excellence. This means all levels of the company. You can have a great shop floor employee population, but if the management team is not right for the task and does not have the vision, drive and perseverance then it will still not happen. The opposite is also true. If you have a top notch management team but your hiring practice for non-management personnel is lacking you will likely fail as well. Managers must review each and every position in the company for the ideal traits, experience and background. At that point we can either hire the ideal candidate or elect to hire a candidate that can be developed to the desire level. The problem that I have seen in some organizations is that the ideal candidates are not brought in and then they also are not developed. To add to this, the expectations are then lowered for the employees and the organization.
5) Correct and improve in an ongoing basis. Do not lose the desire to improve once a few of the low hanging fruit have been corrected with some success. We must instill a culture where all employees are constantly looking to fix issues and improve to the next level in all areas of the organization. This is one of the main reasons that I absolutely love the “process based approach” that ISO based systems drive when done correctly. The PDCA loop is key to this. To maintain this however (as stated above) requires the right mix of management and employees that have the drive and hunger to make the organization better.
Here is to improvement.