Execute with Consistency and Simplicity to Drive Operational Excellence
“Most leaders would agree that they’d be better off having an average strategy with superb execution than a superb strategy with poor execution.” Stephen Covey
In today’s challenging environment, enlightened business leaders will focus on thorough planning and flawless execution. Both disciplines are important to a successful business; however, this discussion will focus on execution.
To be clear, a thoughtful plan is a necessity; however, without effective execution, it is practically worthless. I will share a simple framework for helping individuals and teams achieve solid execution and operational excellence. This proven process is simple and straightforward and will serve organizations well, regardless of size or industry.
In previous articles, I have stated what is an indisputable fact: The right culture is fundamental for delivering consistently superior business growth. Specifically, two essential elements of the winning culture are:
- Effective, free-flowing communications
- Abundant collaboration
Truly effective organizational communication is not unilateral but is characterized by an environment that supports mutual respect, trust, integrity, and transparency. There is an open, honest, two-way exchange of vital information between leadership and employees, and among employees as needed. In short, this environment features a prolific communications network and effortless collaboration among Individuals and teams.
Once an environment of communication and collaboration is established, leadership must provide a simple, straightforward framework to drive operational excellence. This approach is comprised of three elements:
- Define What Must Be Done and Assign Individual Work Activity
Accountability – Each person in the business is accountable for carrying out a specific set of responsibilities in a certain way. Expectations must be set and communicated clearly and then confirmed, to ensure there is no room for misunderstanding. To be clear, leadership is ultimately accountable for all aspects of the firm; however, to achieve business goals, they must delegate responsibilities and duties throughout the organization. To make this work an implicit bilateral contract is established between leadership and each employee. First, through coaching, training, and other employee development opportunities, leadership is accountable to prepare individuals to be capable of carrying out specific activities/duties required to meet business expectations. And, in turn, employees must be accountable to leadership for executing these duties and responsibilities.
- Inspect Expectations – Review/Evaluate Employee Performance Against Goals
Visibility – For every critical business function, leaders must have a clear, timely view on actual results produced by each and every employee. It is recommended that leadership develops a rigorous and systematic review process. Based on the situation, this might include personal observation, customer and employee feedback/survey processes, systematic reporting, scheduled operations reviews, random inspection, etc. These views must provide transparent perspectives to leadership on actual employee activities and associated outcomes, and how these align with business expectations and goals.
- Administer Rewards, Training/Coaching, Discipline. Etc.
Consequences – This category includes compensation, incentives, rewards, and recognition. Further, it includes coaching, training, performance management, and disciplinary action. Employee work efforts/activities will result in three outcomes: 1) exceeding, 2) meeting or 3) falling short of expectations. Each outcome warrants a specific consequence that must be administered in a fair, timely, and consistent manner.
In summary, consistent execution and operational excellence are driven by a culture which supports communication and collaboration with visibility, accountability, and consequences. Of course, this is a very high-level view of a business model for operational excellence and solid execution; however, if you are interested in additional details and assistance in creating this scheme in your business, please contact me at 281-817-7391, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org