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The Drivers and Future of Operational Excellence

Over the last few days, I have had several snippets of interesting and stimulating discussions with various colleagues, fellow opex professionals and executive leadership. However, somehow the BIG food for thought was elusive.

And, earlier today – came the moment of truth.

I happen to receive the report from PEX Network about their latest Process Excellence survey. An in-depth online survey was conducted in February 2013 to which 929 process professionals had responded (I was one of them). The respondents included a large number of internal & external process excellence professionals (consultants, business analysts, process owners etc.).

There are 2 parts of the survey report which I found to be particularly interesting and thought provoking.

One of the sections of the report highlights the key reasons for organizations to pursue process excellence . And, 48.9% of the survey respondents selected “business growth plans” as one of the top three drivers of process change while 47.9% selected “changing customer expectations”.

It`s not a surprise indeed. A PEX initiative (if implemented properly) enables organizations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of various critical business processes. This is achieved via engaging with customers and suppliers and employees; understanding the value from a customer`s perspective; eliminating NVA`s, and continously improving the value creation.

And, in today`s tough economic and highly competitive environment across industries, across geographies – only way to survive and / or grow is to improve and excel.

Another, and perhaps the most relevant section is about the state of affairs and future of PEX programs.

In this year`s survey only 45% (appox.) of the respondents have mentioned that the PEX deployment (project, program) in their organization is expanding. A significantly large number (11.7%) of the respondents (compared to only 5% in 2012) have mentioned that the program in their organization has been dismantled / is at risk, and another 15% (approx.) have highlighted experiencing declining results.

In a related question, a large number of PEX professionals have highlighted the key challenges for the PEX initiatives as – linking process improvement with the top level business strategy, overcoming too much short term focus, and sustaining change.

While I celebrate several new organizations and their executive leadership embracing the PEX approach and realizing the benefits, I wonder if the PEX community needs to give some serious thought towards the future of operational / process excellence.

  • What can we do to stop organizations putting the breaks on their improvement initiatives?

  • How do we ensure that improvement initiatives are aligned to the business strategy and the organization`s strategic goals?

  • How do we deliver results on a short to medium to long term basis?

  • How do we make the improvement initiatives truly continual?

The PEX report includes a very interesting comment by one of the survey respondents. “I think a lot of process professionals have been locked in their processes”…How True…

I have often said – PEX professionals are the biggest resistance to our own evolution and change (even though we preach to be open to change)..

Often, I have come across PEX professionals who get lost in the tools (which one and how exactly to use it), take pride in how much stats and minitab they know…

But, when I engage to understand how and how much impact have they had on the business results, how many ambassadors of change have they influenced, how many executives have they evangelised – I draw a blank. And, sometimes I even get told in nice (and even in not so nice ways) – is that relevant!?

During the course of this year – in my endeavour to Enable Excellence, I will be attempting to reach out to executive leadership and PEX professionals to ascertain the true root causes of the decline / non expansion of PEX programs, and most importantly determine and implement some concrete corrective actions…

I invite fellow professionals and executive leaders to join me in this effort to create a better future – for PEX and Organizational Performance.

As Drucker said – “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”…

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