While achieving Operational Excellence is not overly complicated, it is not something that can easily be done either. To do so, there two critical steps that your organization needs to get right from the start.
The steps are:
- Know where you want to go (your destination).
- Create a roadmap of how to get there.
Where Do You Want Your Operational Excellence Journey to Take You?
Knowing where the journey should take you is the first step in achieving Operational Excellence. However, you can’t even begin to make this first step if you don’t understand what Operational Excellence is. Specifically, understanding it in terms of how it looks, works and what to expect from it.
Operational Excellence Requires a Road Map that is Easily Understood by Everyone
Creating a road map for the final destination of your Operational Excellence journey begins with letting all employees in on the plan. This way, everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected of them in order to achieve Operational Excellence. It doesn’t matter which department they work in; this has to be a team effort at all levels of the organization.
It is important that everyone knows the final destination of the journey. The goal is not to just let employees know that they need to work towards improvement every day; rather, it is about making sure each one of them works towards the destination without needing management to push them. With Operational Excellence being the destination, achieving should become organizational culture.
Now that we know the destination, we can define Operational Excellence as follows:
The point where a customer’s flow of value is recognized by all employees and each of them works towards making sure the flow is never interrupted.
It is about making sure the product’s flow in the operation has been made visual, creating a clear line of sight that tells each employee in the operation if the customer will get the product in time without any interruptions. Also, it is about making sure any possible interruption to the flow is visible to everyone, on top of creating standard work for abnormal flows that employees should carry out when there’s a breakdown in the flow. Preferably, they should be able to anticipate the breakdown and take preventative measures.
But what does the destination look like? And what can you do to reach it? The destination needs to be defined according to these questions, which the entire organization needs to understand by thinking in terms of continuous improvement. When it comes to continuous improvement, however, further questions arise that need to be answered so that every employee understands what is meant by continuous improvement and how it can be used to achieve Operational Excellence.
The nine questions below are the ones that need answers:
- What’s the purpose of continuous improvement?
- What’s the optimum method for improvement?
- How can we determine what needs improving?
- What’s the purpose of creating a flow?
- What things can interrupt the flow?
- If everything is done correctly, what would the appearance of the shop floor be like?
- If everything is done correctly, what would the appearance of the office be like?
- If everything is done correctly, how would the supply chain look like?
- Where is this journey of continuous improvement taking us?
Creating a Roadmap Towards Operational Excellence
Once every employee in the organization is on the same page about Operational Excellence and continuous improvement, a road map towards Operational Excellence needs to be created. When building a road map, it is not about brainstorming a plan of execution; rather, it is about something else.
To put it simply, there’s a need for design guidelines that can be used to outline how everything will operate when an order is received from the customer. (This is the same way an engineer uses physical laws as guidelines to design vehicles and aircraft). The design criteria must contain the ten guidelines for a mixed model pacemaker (the singular point with a schedule in the value system) and the eight guidelines for end-to-end value stream design. It should also contain the six guidelines for supply chain design, the nine guidelines for designing an office value stream and the six guidelines for shared resource handling.
The goal of Operational Excellence is to come up with lean value streams, and each step mentioned helps towards achieving this goal. As for the remainder of the roadmap, it is about rolling out the design step by step. When everything is consolidated, the road map should look like this:
- Designing of lean value streams.
- Creating a flow for the lean value streams.
- Visualizing the flow for each employee.
- Formulating standard work in regards to the flow.
- Creating a visualization for abnormal flow.
- Formulating standard work in regards to the abnormal flow.
- Improving the flow with employees.
- Performing preemptive measures.
In conclusion, organizations can get where they want to go faster if they have a clear roadmap of how to get there. And Operational Excellent organizations will win a bigger piece of the market share and expand their operations compared to organizations that aren’t Operationally Excellent.