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Operating culture is the key to consistently strong execution.

Execute, Execute, Execute! Execution is the key to driving performance - we've all heard the mantra and there's not a lot of disagreement about its importance. The key question is how do we build an operating culture to consistently execute at a high level? The key to building a consistently strong execution system begins with understanding the four interdependent dimensions of operational excellence. These four execution building blocks apply to every business, industry, and level of an organization.

  1. Operating model - is the organization's functional construct of creating and delivering value. The operating model describes how the organization applies standards, performance metrics, and discipline to well-defined roles, functions, and team missions to efficiently and predictably produce high-quality outcomes. Documenting, publishing, and being explicitly clear about how the system is designed and is supposed to operate is critical. You can and will modify, evolve and improve with time and more reps, but everyone has to be working from a common standard.

  2. Talent - You need a few superstars and a lot of capable professionals who are attracted to and committed to your values and mission. Getting the most from your talent begins with making good hiring decisions and knowing who will fit and believe in your values. You will make hiring mistakes, so you have to be expeditious in removing poor performers and or bad actors. In addition, professionals need to understand that the world we live in is evolving at an accelerating rate and what is good enough today will not be tomorrow. As a result, professionals need to own their performance readiness and be self-directed and continuously increasing their capacity and skills to perform and remain relevant.

  3. Operating Values - The explicit values that contribute to optimal team performance in the short and long run. These values are explicit, published, promoted, measured, and form the basis for hiring, performance evaluation, and promotional opportunities. Values answer the question - what are the must-have qualities, characteristics, and behaviors individuals must operate with in order for our business to have optimal collaboration, engagement, trust, and speed? Typically there are 4-10 values.

  4. Leadership - is responsible for modeling, promoting, and using values to optimize operating model execution and quickly resolving or eliminating human or system dysfunctions. While all four dimensions are important, without leadership the other three won't win the day. Great leadership in business is equivalent to a great quarterback in the NFL, without it you aren't going to the playoffs and you certainly aren't winning any super bowls.

Building a system of operational excellence is like a never-ending game of whack a mole, you solve one issue and another one presents itself. There is no end to the opportunities to improve the building blocks and the capacity of the operating system to perform and scale.


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