The last two weeks were rather hectic, the real fact was, we were not getting our operational efficiency anything nearer to our objectives. My team members were arguing over what ought be the main focus given the seemingly unpleasant results attained todate. As I filter out the many contentions and arguments, there really are two main areas or paths towards getting the desired results:
- Work through the process work-flow and cut out those kinks along the way, the desired results would manifest by themselves, or
- Focus towards working out the desired results using whatever methods that may be the most logical choice at the time where they matter most. Once this is attained the processes should fall into place and over the short term, the work-flow is expected to adjust at an efficient level.
To differentiate, it is really about what we wanted to focus on when tackling the the said issues – the first emphasised on getting the mechanism right, but the second contented that we should do or die with the results desired, which in other words, by hook or crook things must be done.
Generally most people would take (1) as the more appropriate method of achieving the desired results simply because this is the more logical choice and moreover we were trained to think in this manner since the day we start work in the industry. “You need not have to worry about the results…. focus on the processes and implement them effective, the end results would be there!” What the experts meant was to have a clear-cut processes, implement them and work towards continuous process improvement and we shall get to the results eventually.
“Eventually…” you mean we would get to it eventually! My two cents worth… after having worked in numerous mindboggling projects involving operational process improvement, I may have to say, this slow and steady method does not work in the real world order. It may had worked in the past but this is unlikely to be so in today’s ultra competitive environment.
We don’t seem to have the time and resources in the state of readiness to move as plan – and that’s looks like the norm today! We may continuously face with staff resignation and slow in getting replacement staff. We may also have to come to terms with technology…. the adoption thereof can be wrenching and any changes would simply means money not to mention the need to re-examining the current workforce resources as to their capability in adopting those technological changes.
We just do not have the luxury of time to work on reexamination of our existing processes to determine what’s working and what’s not working. We just have to work from the desired results and work them backwards – that’s about what’s the essence of contention no. 2. We identify the shortest path getting to the results and work towards getting the acts in position and push towards the results, despite things done could be haphazard in the process.
Once the results are achieved then we will be able to review the actual processes – what’s work and then sharpen them further. Move people if necessary in order to achieve the end-results….. even if this involved changing the existing operating model in totality!
In short, I may have to say the following for contention no. 2:
- When the desired results are not achieved it is best to re-examine the overall processes as to whether the operational model is still viable given the operating environment at that time and whether the level of staff force deployed is in line with the objectives of the work processes and the desired results,
- Bring the “low-tide” setting into the operating environment – this would mean making the operations more transparent for all to see. Low-tide simply means when the tide is at the lowest, alot of things that are not visible previously start to surface making things more understandable. When low-tide comes, people would have to start moving out of their comfort zone….. and be part of another actionplan! With the low-tide environment, also means making the workflow processes easier to understand for the senior management team – step-by-step,
- How to bring “low-tide” in? I would not elaborate here but suffice to say – just change the role play of the existing staff force and see how they react or made the usual workflow more measurable so that things can be transparent for all including the senior people….
- Once the operating process flow is clearer (not necessarily from the step-by-step), decision making concerning what’s the next best steps to take would be scalable.
What we actually need (although we may not have known…) is all about OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS rather than its EFFICIENCY aspects……
In today’s very competitive environment where everything is operated on a “on demand” basis customers’ expectation is nothing but the main reason for our continuous existence. We therefore, cannot afford to spend too much of our time and whatever resources we already have towards grinding out the continuous improvement process – it is just too damn slow!
Do you agree with me? You can put in some comment or challenge me to a whole new level of thoughts!