The 6 Steps a consultant MUST DO to propose the Right Operational Excellence assessment

In the modern business world, the importance of performing the right operational excellence assessment at exactly the right time in an organisation's life cannot be overstated enough. Oftentimes, these assessments come out of a need to obtain an in-depth, unbiased overview of a business' current capabilities. This usually comes about after managers identify certain operational issues that need to be addressed. Only by gaining the clearest possible picture of where you stand will you have a chance to identify what isn't working and, hopefully, what steps need to be taken to adequately correct those issues.

Recently, we took a deep dive into the process of deciding and preparing for the right operational excellence assessment from the point of view of business managers. That process involved five steps that began by looking at the likelihood that an implementation project would be necessary after analysis, and gave those professionals a chance to consider the "bigger picture" in the context of the scope of their work, the hierarchy of business priorities, and more.

In this document, we'll look at the exact same process but from a slightly different point of view: that of the consultant. Quickly, you will begin to realize that there is a lot of overlap in these two positions. However, there's also a lot that is different and, because of that, this is all more than worth exploring through a similar-yet-separate lens.

Whether you're an internal or external consultant, you've been contacted by a manager with the specific task of performing an operational excellence analysis. In order to effectively do that, you need to be able to quickly identify the right analysis to perform depending on the situation. No two organisations are created equally in the first place, to say nothing of how truly different a lot of the challenges you'll be faced with solving will often be.

Likewise, you're also a business professional - which means that you need to be able to maximize your chances of winning the bid to begin the type of relationship that will hopefully serve you both well for years to come. This, too, will depend on several criteria and things get especially tricky if there is a need for an improvement action plan after the diagnosis. You cannot craft the right sales pitch if you don't know exactly what it is that you're selling, after all.

Remember that when the type and complexity of certain issues can no longer be solved with a standard managerial approach, you're entering into a completely different situation that is as fluid as it is complex. The solution a manager seeks may be something straightforward like a "change management" approach, or it could require a complicated transformative solution at the other end of the spectrum. That's a large part of what you've been engaged to find out, but the only way you'll be able to do that is if you choose the right operational excellence assessment in the first place.

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5 must DO to decide and prepare for an Operational Excellence assessment - Manager's perspective

Context: as a manager, you want to improve your organisation and you wonder whether you should start by an assessment of the current state

In a lot of ways, the job of a manager is not unlike the captain of a ship. It is your responsibility to make sure that all systems are functioning and that all employees are coming together to form something far more powerful than any one of them could be on their own. Then and only then will you be confident that you will accomplish your long-term objectives in the most effective and appropriate ways possible.

Oftentimes, managers will encounter operational issues that need to be addressed. This requires a careful analysis to achieve the understanding necessary to know what step to take to solve those challenges and, more importantly, how best to take them.

Usually, this leads managers to determine that an Operational Excellence Assessment is necessary. That, unfortunately, is where things get a bit complicated.

At its core, an Operational Excellence Assessment is exactly what it sounds like: it's an opportunity to obtain a totally in-depth, completely unbiased assessment of your organization's current capabilities. At the end of this process, you'll know more than ever about what is working at an organizational level and, more importantly, what isn't. You'll therefore be able to support and empower everything that works and you will finally be able to address the root cause of the things that don't.

But this isn't just difficult to achieve without the right Operational Excellence Assessment having been selected in the first place. In most cases, it's largely impossible.

The purpose of this white paper is to help managers like yourself fully qualify both your Operational Excellence Assessment decision and the potential project that follows it. Over the course of these pages, you will learn things like:

  • How to identify what type of analysis and support you need, along with how to get internal validation. This will depend heavily on several different factors and whether or not there is a need for an improvement action plan after the diagnosis.
  • If there is a need for such a plan, you will learn how to best prepare yourself, your teams and all key stakeholders before starting the diagnosis. This will in turn put you in the best position to tackle the consultant selection process as well.

All of this is critical because when the complexity of the issues you are trying to solve cannot be addressed with a standard managerial approach, you are suddenly dealing with a significantly different situation that falls outside the normal process of running a business. Depending on the context, you could be looking at a straightforward "Change Management" approach or a far more complex "Transformational" approach. Both require a specific and thoughtful framework with dedicated people, unique change management capabilities, complicated stakeholder management, budget approval, human resources and personal representative involvement, and more.

It is in your own best interest to anticipate these areas before any assessment is performed so that you can properly prepare. If you don't, there are far too many risks:

  • Selecting the wrong type of assessment model will lead to the selection of the wrong type of support.
  • At that point, you will be unable to execute the project that all key stakeholders were actually anticipating.
  • This leads to a general heightened organizational sense of frustration.
  • Ultimately, the project is a failure.

If some type of implementation is necessary and you have not prepared, not only are your chances of success lower - you have wasted significant amounts of time and money as well. This is one of those aspects of operational improvement where it is difficult, if not impossible, to get a second chance. From that perspective, "getting it done" is far less important than "getting it done properly."

On the other hand, adequate preparation can not only help your project achieve success - it can bring genuine change to your company in a way that is highly rewarding for all involved. Very often this generates a tangible boost to the manager who initiated this project, too.

More often than not, one of your key partners throughout this process will be either an external or internal consultant. They will support the initial diagnostic and possibly even the implementation project, if one is deemed necessary. But not only do you need to exercise care during the consultant selection process to make sure you're finding the right one, but this partner also needs to embrace the appropriate type of analysis approach to begin with. This, too, will depend on very specific criteria.

The larger goal of this white paper is to guide you through this process by way of a series of straightforward, manageable steps. Taken together, they will help you take the right actions and make the right decisions when considering the initiation of an initial diagnostic in your operational area. All told, there are five core steps that you must complete to make the right Operational Excellence Assessment decision for your business, all of which are worth a closer look.

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