What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders striving to achieve operational excellence?

While leading a company comes naturally to some, for many it is a skill that is learned through study and experience. Developing operational processes to make your company run like a finely tuned Swiss watch can be particularly challenging. Keep reading to find out what advice these business leaders have for up-and-coming leaders.
Dave Forman

Dave Forman

Captain Dave Forman is a former US Navy ballistic submarine commander. He is also the founder of Wolfpack Leadership.

3 Tips for Achieving Operational Excellence

1) Successful leaders never go it alone. As quickly as you can, develop a small group of reliable advisors that will give you the feedback you need, not the feedback you necessarily want to hear.

2) Develop a simple (no more than three elements) company vision and work with your team to get their input before you make it final. Hint: [The first two goals] should be something about excelling in whatever you do and something about taking care of your people. The third can fill whatever hole you may have, but the first two are rather universal. You just need to make them applicable to the nature of your workplace.

3) Pull as you lead but don’t pull too hard. If you’re the locomotive pulling the rest of the train, don’t break a coupling. If you pull too hard too fast, they will stop following you. Make sure everyone, and I mean everyone, can keep up. For the organization to succeed, the entire train needs to arrive on time, not just the lead car. You do this by walking around and communicating with them.

Seek for Outside Perspectives and Ideas

Operational excellence is a moving target over time, and a more appropriate goal should be continuous improvement. Advancements in technology and processes will continually enable improvement in operations. The advice I would give to the next generation of leaders in achieving improved operations is to adapt mechanisms to continually bring external perspectives and leading-edge tools and technology into your organization.

Every organization with a stable workforce is ultimately limited by its lack of perspective and experience. Learning and developing an efficient operation keeps the organization’s focus internally. Subsequently, risk aversion limits the creativity that is needed for achieving differentiated operational excellence. Leaders aspiring to operational excellence must find creative mechanisms to incorporate what other companies and other industries are doing in tangential operations and processes.

These mechanisms could [include] involvement in industry consortiums, hiring key employees from different industries/companies, adding experienced professionals to internal teams on an ad-hoc basis to support key change and improvement initiatives, conducting and making industry and benchmarking research available to the organization, or piloting/testing new technology.

There are many ways to encourage and achieve bringing in outside perspective to organizations, but the key is to have a purposeful strategy for making this happen consistently. Then, rewarding experimental risk-taking in trying new things to achieve improvement and building a culture that supports it. Operational excellence is a moving target and cannot be consistently achieved over time with a static perspective from within the four walls of the organization.

David Magnani

David Magnani

David Magnani, Managing Partner M&A Executive Search.
Jaya Aiyar

Jaya Aiyar

Jaya Aiyar, Founder & CEO at Créatif. Jaya is an engineer with a passion for Art. Her love for Art along with her extensive work experience in technology, helped her envision Créatif’s unique concept.

Invest In Your Team

They’ll be doing most of the work during operations, so it’s great if they’re well-trained, given everything they need, and fairly compensated to keep them motivated and inspired to perform their best.

Furthermore, investing in your workers ensures that they will look after your company and consumers since they will feel valued and cared for, causing them to reciprocate the gesture.

Align Current Initiatives with Strategic Goals

Aligning the improvement objectives with the strategic goals is a critical step in the strategic implementation phase. This [alignment] frequently necessitates connecting existing improvement programs and initiatives with strategic goals in order to detect gaps, conflicts, and duplication. This [process] may not be pleasant for all company stakeholders since they frequently regard their own projects as the most essential and will fight to keep them going.

It is also quite typical for an organization to identify several initiatives that are not linked with the business’s strategic goals, and in many situations, such initiatives may have contradictory advantages and purposes.

Lucas Travis

Lucas Travis

Lucas Travis, Founder of Inboard Skate.
Miranda Yan

Miranda Yan

Miranda Yan, Founder of VinPit.

Fine-Tune Processes and Procedures

[The quest for] operational excellence, unlike other business efforts, does not end after it is accomplished. To maintain growth and stay ahead of the competition, you’ll need continual communication, ongoing development, and employee involvement.

My advice to the next generation of leaders is to concentrate on producing a flawless procedure, which will allow leaders to determine the core cause of any problems, make appropriate decisions, and devise the best strategies for their teams. Another way to look at it is that a brilliant employee won’t consistently provide high-quality outcomes if the process is flawed.

Operational excellence is about using the proper tools and processes to establish an ideal work culture that allows people to take ownership of the operation’s flow and ensures continual development. Thus, it should be the top priority for leaders. Think methodologically. This will help leaders comprehend the link between their system’s many interrelated elements and how they all operate together and aid in improving decision-making by preventing leaders from adopting a limited view of their company.

It entails removing silos and other obstacles that obstruct the flow of information and ideas throughout the company, documenting how the value chain links to various processes, and aiming for seamless cross-functional cooperation.

Ensure Every Employee Has a Place

My advice for the next generation of leaders would be to ensure that your entire team is committed to working to the highest level of their capabilities. We have been operating for years, with actionable improvement plans in place [accompanied] by potential consequences. [Yet] many employees have not been held accountable. A reason for this could be that the employee felt like they were just a number, and the employer took little interest in humanizing them. With an entire generation of rising leaders, we have to do better as employers to humanize our employees and provide them with benefits and actions of care [to encourage] them to give back by doing their best work. Operational excellence will be realized with accountability plans in place and strategic execution at each level of the organization.

Jaclyn Strauss

Jaclyn Strauss

Jaclyn Strauss, CPA is a mid-level executive for a Fortune 100 company with multiple passions. She is the founder of her own company called My Macro Memoir.
Katherine Brown

Katherine Brown

Katherine Brown, Founder of Spyic, a company engaged in parental control and remote monitoring programs.

Leverage Technology to Enrich the Customer Experience

A business can survive and succeed only to the degree it meets the needs of its customers. The changing dynamics of life mean that you have to be a step ahead of the consumer to remain in business. Coupled with that is pressure to keep and attract more clients. Technological advancements, however, come as a welcome relief to entrepreneurs who study and adjust accordingly. On the flip side, companies overtaken by the technological bandwagon [may have] to close shop.

Implement a Policies Support Your Workforce

In order to achieve operational excellence, you need to rethink your policies, practices, work culture, training, and development strategies to make sure that they’re geared towards the needs and well-being of your workforce and customers. Implementing policies and practices that prioritize and keep up with the demands of your workforce without neglecting, but instead nurture, the well-being of your workforce help make sure that your company is geared towards growth, true productivity, and operational excellence.

Simon Elkjær

Simon Elkjær

Simon Elkjær, Chief Marketing Officer at avXperten.
Matt Seaburn

Matt Seaburn

Matt Seaburn, is Partner and President of Rent-A-Tire, L.P. (DBA – Rent A Wheel).

Keep an Open Mind

Teamwork and collaboration are of the utmost importance. While being a leader requires being in charge, it also requires keeping an open mind and listening to everyone on your team for valuable insights which could lead to effective methods for running your business. Everyone has something to offer. As a leader, you can [use] others’ perspectives to make thoughtful informed operational decisions.

Support Employee Growth

My advice for the next generation of leaders to achieve operational excellence is to invest in your people. Operation depends on the competency and skill of your employees. If you want to be successful and excellent operations, nurture the skills of employees and unleash their potential. Your employee’s knowledge and productivity is the main ingredient of your operational efficiency. Therefore, to achieve excellence, you must let each of them grow. This is the best strategy to achieve excellence.

Brett Keith

Brett Keith, Founder of Alpha Tradesmen Academy.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.