Operational Excellence Barriers

By Kevin McManus, Chief Excellence Officer and Systems Guy, Great Systems

What are Your Operational Excellence Barriers?

Poor work system design is the primary cause of our failure to sustain high levels of performance. Over time, I have discovered ten key work systems that must work well, and in sync, in order for sustained operational excellence to be realized. Similarly, I was able to identify ten common operational excellence barriers. Common barriers include poorly designed leadership development systems, technology utilization systems, and measurement systems. What might your operational excellence barriers be?

Systems give you what you design them to give you. Your personal food selection process determines to some degree the performance of your body. Think about the compensation system you use at work – the ‘package’ of wages, benefits, and work environment. How does that ‘package’ affect the levels of motivation, ownership, and commitment your people feel towards your organization? Commonly, operational excellence barriers exist in organizations when work systems fail to encourage and support high performance work.

EXPLORE MORE: How Great are Your Work Systems?

How Do You Optimize Work System Performance?

This is not an ‘either – or’ argument. Organizational performance is both constrained and aided by systems design and integration. The positive performance of one system offsets the negative impact of a different system. For example, a strong leadership system overcomes some of the negatives that result from a poor compensation work system design. The goal, of course, is to get all ten work systems to spin in a positive direction, in a consistent manner. That is how you optimize work system performance.

Think of poor work systems design as being similar to a dog on a leash in the back yard. The length of the leash is the constraint to the dog’s ability to explore and defend the yard. We can view the leash as a operational excellence barrier or performance restrictor plate. If we optimize the length of the leash, we provide benefits to both the dog and the owner. If we find and remove other performance restrictors, we gain further benefits.

As your key work systems improve in their design, site, business unit, and organizational performance improve. However, certain work systems contribute more than others. Work to get all key work systems and processes spinning in a positive direction. Then, they provide more and more value. Plus, they improve consistently over time.

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Operational Excellence Barriers and Work Systems

Operational Excellence Barrier – Click on a Key Work System to learn more!

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Minimizing Operational Excellence Barriers

Keep in mind that each of these systems interface with the other nine. Plus, each of these systems has either a positive or negative spin effect on your organization at any given time. Leaders can increase or decrease the speed of this system rotation quite easily. However, it is often much more difficult to reverse the spin of a system. This is due to the momentum that exists. Strive to improve the above work systems. Start at the top of the list, and attack the high leverage factors that hold back performance improvements in your organization.

To change behaviors, you need to change systems. Leaders need to remove, or at least minimize, their existing operational excellence barriers. It will not work to simply ask for, let alone demand, behavior change. Click on the above operational excellence barriers and/or systems to learn more.

Keep improving! Kevin McManus, Chief Excellence Officer and Systems Guy, Great Systems

If you would like more information about the improvement tools and systems I have to offer, please send me an e-mail at kevin@greatsystems.com.

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