Автор статьи утверждает, что вина за проблемы в осуществляемых компаниями критически важных операциях лежит на высшем руководстве, которое распределяет капитал, измеряет результаты, продвигает по службе и определяет какие операционные проблемы решать и когда. Чтобы устранить «операционный склероз» и наладить работу бизнес-процессов, он рекомендует обратить внимание на четыре ключевых управленческих процесса: стратегическое развитие и развертывание целей, измерение результатов, развитие талантов и решение операционных проблем.
When I was a kid, I watched Jack LaLanne ("the godfather of fitness") do exercises on TV. I remembered him when I started thinking about organizational fitness. (He was in the news when he passed away recently.) I looked him up on Wikipedia. "Living is a pain in the butt," he said. "Dying is easy. It's like an athletic event. You've got to train for it. You've got to eat right. You've got to exercise."
Many organizations would do well to heed his advice, with far too many companies out of shape operationally. They've gone flabby in critical areas like filling orders, bringing new products to market, and answering customers' questions. Why do they have chronic problems with bloated costs, lengthy cycle times, and substandard quality?
Don't immediately blame the managers and workers in the trenches. In every company where I've seen operational sclerosis, the fault begins at the top of the organization — those who decide how to allocate capital, measure performance, set promotions, and determine which operational problems to fix and when.
To make sure key business processes stay trim, top management must address four key management processes: strategy development and deployment, performance measurement, talent development, and operational problem solving. I know this is much easier said than done, but they can be changed. Let's look at how sometimes subtle shifts in priorities or approaches for each of the four can bring about a more fit organization.
1. Strategy Development and Deployment (setting priorities and alignment, coordinating and controlling resources):
Typically, top executives, smart staff (e.g., head of strategy or planning), and consultants figure out the company's strategy, which is closely held. Leaders have comprehensive information on performance and all the answers on what the organization should do. Through command and control (e.g., plans and budgets), they steer the organization.
However, to improve operations, employees at all levels must understand the company's priorities and be able to translate them into their daily mandates. To achieve top-to-bottom alignment, leaders at each level must explain to employees the strategy and its implications for their jobs.
Consider Danaher, a successful $13 billion industrial conglomerate. The central feature of the "Danaher Business System" is something it calls "policy deployment," a process and set of rules that force the firm's subsidiaries to translate their strategic objectives (e.g., increase market share in the Asia-Pacific market) into operational objectives (e.g., increase the rate of new product introductions). In turn, that objective triggers a series of objectives for other parts of the organization. Policy deployment reviews take place once a month.
2. Performance Measurement (establishing reviews and determining compensation):
For years executives have been measured on short-term, bottom-line results, with a focus on Wall Street.
But companies that stay operationally fit focus on process performance and assume that financial results will follow. Their top executives monitor a dashboard of operational measures that track performance from the customer perspective, such as percentage of "perfect orders" (on-time, full order as promised). They translate these measures down to all levels in the organization. These firms tie bonuses to these shared operational measures.
3. Talent Management (hiring, training, and promotion):
Traditionally, companies hire, develop, and promote their people for achieving functional excellence and financial results. They reward employees for contributing to departmental performance. They develop managers through training and issue progress reports via confidential appraisals.
Companies that excel at process performance focus on customer value and organizational learning. They promote people with demonstrated success in improving processes. They also elevate employees who coach others and build their skills. Managerial skills are developed by addressing problems on the job, not in a classroom. Working with their manager as a teacher, they reflect on lessons learned. Appraisals are open.
For example, Grainger, the leading distributor of manufacturing supplies, has developed a short list of managerial behaviors to assess leaders' performance. One behavior is "Shows respect for people who do the work by engaging and enabling them in problem solving." Senior leaders bring context, strategy, and customer needs while front line workers bring their knowledge of how work is done to improve operational processes.
4. Operational Problem Solving:
When operational problems arise, many senior executives' first reaction is to assign more people to the problem area — to work harder. Problems are usually kept quiet. If adding people doesn't work, their usual next step is to charter a project to fix the problem. They assign staff experts and often hire external consultants.
This is in marked contrast to the way most operationally excellent companies deal with operational issues. These firms have detailed checklists and procedures for most activities. Their people are much more likely to perform their work in accordance with the standards. These standards make it easier to identify when a process is not performing according to expectations, and the source of problems.
For example, Lantech, a manufacturer of shrink-wrapping equipment, introduced daily huddles for three levels of managers at its plants to surface problems early and make sure workers have everything they need to fix quality problems.
Problems are viewed as an opportunity for learning, not something to hide. Front-line supervisors and line managers (not staff experts or external consultants) address problems, usually before they reach a crisis. They take responsibility for cross-functional difficulties outside their jobs as a matter of course. Rather than work harder, they search for the root cause of a problem to eliminate its recurrence. They work smarter, not harder.
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