So you want to engage an operational excellence deployment that will transform your company. Ok! seems reasonable and achievable right? Any google search or visit to the local bookstore will provide you with countless options for guidance and expertise, each professing that their approach will work for you. With this many options, success seems almost unavoidable. All you need to do is pick an option, deploy and start basking in the improvement sun…right?
In our experience, the reality of implementing an operational excellence deployment program that will deliver year after year improvements is more complex than it may appear. Before moving forward with any deployment you must first ask yourself two questions.
- Can I successfully deploy OpEx alone or should I leverage an expert to help?
- How do I select the expert that will work best for my company?
Question 1: Can I successfully deploy OpEx alone or should I leverage an expert to help?
You are undoubtedly an expert in your specific business. If your neighbor was starting a business in your field would you advise them to forge ahead without leveraging someone with proven experience? Of course you wouldn’t.
Designing and deploying an OpEx Deployment is no different. In our years of practice we have determined that trying to design, implement, and manage a deployment by yourself is one of the top 10 reasons why deployments fail. Don’t make this mistake, leverage an expert.
Question 2: How do I select the expert that will work best for my company?
To select an expert that will work best for your company take a step back and look at what the different websites and books are selling.
Some books/websites are selling gurus…
These individuals are sure they can solve your problems. Their wisdom is all you need to succeed. If you pick this route you may find that if you don’t succeed it’s not them, it’s you and/or your people do not listen well enough. This group is easy to pick out. Look for glossy photos of said guru locked in deep thought, possibly in a leather chair. Add in a list of awards and positive quotations applauding how “he/she revolutionized the company / industry / world / universe” and you have found your guru.
If you choose this avenue be sure to:
- How is the deployment rolled out?
- How much time will the guru actually be involved in the deployment?
- What are the problems we will face throughout the process?
- How is the deployment designed to prevent and address the problems?
- Do you feel confident that the guru focuses enough on execution to deal with the problems that will inevitably occur?
- Is the guru’s ultimate goal to grow his/her brand or to solve your problems?
Others books/websites are selling a specific improvement methodology…
These books provide examples of how an “improvement methodology worked perfectly somewhere else and because it worked for another company it will definitely work for you! In fact, it will work everywhere. One day everyone will be doing things this way.” This approach feels safer. You are betting on conventional wisdom. You have heard the methodologies referenced on TV and in the Wall Street Journal. They bring with them a real life case study of the company that developed each method. Oh and they have tools, lots of them. Tools feel like the solution. Additionally, colleges teach these methods and there are non-profit organizations committed to promoting it and certifying individuals. How could it fail?
If you proceed with this option, don’t be impressed with acronyms, foreign words, or tools. Instead, make sure you:
- What were the specific business problems that their tools were designed to solve?
- Does your company have those same problems?
- If you don’t have the same problems why would you blindly buy/use the same tools?
To be successful, pick an expert who will customize a program to fit YOUR company…
Don’t be tricked by the clever marketing of a guru. They are most often gurus of marketing, not successful deployments. Additionally, don’t be falsely comforted by the security of copying what other companies have done. The companies that everyone references, Motorola, Toyota, and GE didn’t copy other programs. They designed and developed customized programs to address the unique challenges that they faced at that time.
The bottom line is that you don’t want something that worked for someone else, you want something that will work for your company. For this reason, engage an expert that aims to understand the challenges your company faces, what your company needs to improve, and is capable of helping you design and implement an OpEx program that will need those needs. Once you engage this person success is not guaranteed, but it is much more likely.